Some 20,000 people have already completed the first puzzle in YA thriller trilogy Endgame, said author James Frey, who has put up a $500,000 prize to whoever completes all the puzzles first.
The first book in the series, The Calling, was published by HarperCollins Childrens Books on 7th October and is part of a wider immersive experience that will also include novellas, social media and games.
Speaking at an event last night (21st October) at Google’s London headquarters, Frey said:“I’m trying to build a 21st century world. As we move deeper and deeper into the world of technology these things will fuse. We’ve always said that we’re building the deepest rabbit hole that ever existed and we want people to lose themselves in it.”
The book is set in an alternative world where 12 civilisations are waiting for the "Endgame", each keeping one warrior under the age of 20 ready to play. When the game hits, those 12 young people must battle to find three keys. The winner guarantees the survival of his or her decendents.
There are several puzzles contained throughout the book and whoever completes them first will win a chest that is currently in Las Vegas and filled with $500,000 in gold. The only requirement to play is to have a google account and agree to the privacy rules.
Frey hired two experts to build the puzzles, which had to be “language proof and culture proof” because the book was released in more than 30 languages. “At one point we had lawyers in 18 different countries working on the rules and privacy issues.”
He said he doesn’t know all the solutions, which are written out and locked in a safe in his lawyer's office.
Readers don’t need to engage with the game or social media to tackle the puzzles but Frey said all the different media will add something to the Endgame world. For example, the first novella, to be released next year, will be about a CIA agent who is interrogating a man who turns out to be an Endgame trainer. The CIA agent is also a character in the game.
The next book in the trilogy is released in October 2015, with a new series of puzzles and a new prize to win. Fox is also developing a series of films.