James Frey’s latest book hides clues to half a million dollars in gold in the real world.
You know how educators are always going on and on about how valuable reading is? Well, in the case of a new sci-fi trilogy called Endgame, they’re literally correct: reading the first book in American author James Frey’s apocalyptic series might just win you US$500,000 (RM1.6mil) in gold.
Endgame: The Calling, which is being released today, holds an elaborate code that will guide readers towards a key hidden in the real world, and that key opens a case – held in a Las Vegas casino, according to the Wall Street Journal – that contains the gold.
The book, and the series as a whole, is meant to be a multimedia experience that will connect readers with social media platforms, YouTube videos, and interactive gaming. Each of the books will feature a puzzle, with clues and riddles hidden in the text. And with 27 publishers worldwide releasing the first book today, this event has gone global.
Endgame is a product of Full Fathom Five, Frey’s “transmedia” company.
Set up like an atelier, the company uses groups of writers to realise Frey’s ideas for books mostly aimed at the young adult fiction market. Its most well-known product to date is The New York Times bestselling young adult fiction series The Lorien Legacies.
The first book in the series, I Am Number Four, was made into a feature film in 2011; there have been four other series titles published – The Power Of Six, The Rise Of Nine, The Fall Of Five, and The Revenge Of Seven – interspersed with e-books in a spin-off series, The Lost Files.
Before all of this, though, Frey published his memoirs, A Million Little Pieces, in 2003 and became mired in a scandal when he was forced to admit in 2006 that some of the details in it were fiction; according to the Wall Street Journal he lost his agent and was confronted on The Oprah Winfrey Show that year by an angry Winfrey who had previously recommended his book in her influential book club.
But Frey seems to have recovered and returned unfazed to the publishing scene with Full Fathom Five and the Lorien Legacies series, and now, Endgame.
What is Endgame about? Long ago, 12 cultures were chosen to represent humanity in a global game, called the Endgame, that will decide the fate of humans sometime in the future; those 12 cultures were required to preserve their bloodlines through the centuries and always have one Player prepared to play whenever called upon. Well, the Players are being called now: 12 meteorites strike Earth, each containing a message for a Player on finding three keys. Now all the Players have to do is find the keys and ... save the world. The Calling focuses on the hunt for the first key.
In an interview given to The Hollywood Reporter during the July San Diego Comic Con, Frey said that a book can be more than what’s on the page.
“It can take you out into the real world; it can take you out into the digital world.” He reportedly “cold called” Google with his idea, hoping the company would be interested in partnering on a geolocation game tied to the book.
And it was: Google sent the Ingress team to meet with Frey; Ingress is an “augmented reality, massively multiplayer online role-playing GPS-dependent game” and is Google’s first foray into gaming.
Whether the Endgame-related game will be similar is unknown, as Google had not released any specifics at the time of going to print.