Interactive lure

HarperCollins is trying a new approach with its eight-volume teen mystery series, The Amanda Project.

Book 1, invisible i, comes out in September. In the meantime, there is an interactive website, theamandaproject.com, which includes social networking, online games and user-generated content. The publisher hopes its target market will be sufficiently interested in unraveling the mystery of Amanda Valentino’s whereabouts after she suddenly disappears, to play along.

It is aimed at girls 12 and up. I looked over the site, but I am a long way from 12, so I consulted a preteen reader who has won her school’s prize two years running for reading the most books.

Her comments follow:

“The site sounded intriguing because it is set up in such a way that you wanted to get more. My mom and dad let me register and I am going to participate in the project later on. I do want to read the book when it comes out.”

Still, she didn’t like everything. “It didn’t tell me a lot about the mystery. I got it: she disappeared. But when I clicked on clues, it didn’t give me the whole story.”

And something else rankled as well.

“I disliked that it said it was for readers 13 and up. I was thinking there are others like me who read above their grade level. I was free to do it, but I don’t like being stereotyped, where they assume I’d be too young.”

Hear that, Harper Collins?
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