Summary: The Cool Code
When Zoey’s parents decide she’ll go from homeschooling to in-person middle school, she’s nervous about fitting in. Fortunately, she has one major skill: coding. Having been exposed to computers and coding earlier, Zoey builds a mobile app called The Cool Code, which uses artificial intelligence and data to predict which outfits she should wear, what to say in conversations, and even which kids to befriend if she wants to be popular. When two not-so-popular kids befriend Zoey, they’re eager to experiment with the app as their STEM project to see if following its tips really makes Zoey popular. But letting an app decide your social interactions gets complicated pretty quickly.
I liked the premise of this story and it’s a graphic novel — which makes it even easier to read and enjoy. It’s nice to see more girls coding in books and I liked seeing that transition from homeschool to public school. It was also nice that Zoey wasn’t entirely in opposition to trying something new; in fact, she wanted to be good at public school interactions.
Zoe’s friendship with Morgan and Daniel was genuine and the kids got close quickly because of their shared passions. I did wish we could know a bit more about both kids and their personal struggles, but most of the focus was on Zoey.
The app itself was interesting, to say the least. I was curious about how much data could empower AI to be that knowledgeable on middle school social status quo and how many apps could get as sassy as Zoey’s did. Regardless, it made for enjoyable reading.
The Not So Good
It was a bit tough to suspend my disbelief and I convinced myself by assuming it was a well-told fantasy plot. I also felt like this went a bit longer than I would have liked and the dialogue was stilted at certain points. But again, not many kids would notice these.
Overall: The Cool Code
The Cool Code is a fun, STEM-centered graphic novel about fitting in, being yourself, and finding your tribe. Kids who like or are curious about coding will be intrigued by this novel. It will also appeal to homeschoolers transitioning to public schools as well as those who are only children. The Cool Code stands out for being unique and bringing many tweens tech dreams to life.