Brown's got a broad, cleanly minimalist drawing style, augmented with bright yellow tones…his designs for the prominent actors in Tetris's history are distinctive enough to identify immediately, and, as in the game, the story never stops moving until its final pieces are in place.
The New York Times Book Review - Douglas Wolk
Tetris is widely considered one of the best and most universal games of all time, but as Brown’s (Andre the Giant: Life and Legend) smart, well-paced history relates, there’s more to the story than just falling blocks. In 1984, Tetris is invented by Alexey Pajitnov, a Russian computer scientist, who shares the game with his friends and eventually sneaks it out from behind the Iron Curtain. When the head of a U.K.-based software company glimpses it at a Hungarian technology institute, he immediately recognizes its money-making potential. A series of misunderstandings and outright lies lead to the illegal licensing of the rights, and soon every major game company in the world wants a piece of it. The backroom deals, last-minute contract changes, and hectic trips to Moscow make for a quick and addictive tale that captures all the international drama. Brown’s drawings are simple but highly effective, using a black, white, and yellow color scheme to evoke the limited or nonexistent graphics available to Alexey. (Oct.)
Included in NYPL's "Notable 50 Best Books for Teens" list.
"The story never stops moving until its final pieces are in place."
New York Times
"One of gaming's most intriguing tales...A book to watch."
"[A] look at the creation of Alexey Pajitnov’s enduring classic and the drama that ensues when people with big bags of money try to cash in the game’s popularity."
"A rich read that provides valuable context for the rise of video games in the late 20th century."
"This is a work about the bittersweet dissonances of artistic creativity and commercial greed and the ephemeral yet crucial joy we get from making things fall into place." io9
"Against the backdrop of the Cold War, the saga of Tetris played out like a spy thrillertragic deaths, corporate conspiracies, the prestige of nations hanging in the balance."
"A clean and engaging visual style supports a story that sustains narrative drive, humanizing the characters and making readers care about every development. "
Kirkus, starred review
"Simply illustrated in a sequential panel format, the charming black-andwhite drawings convey high-concept ideas in a clever, succinct manner."
Tetris is a remarkably spare work, cleanly and effortlessly introducing countless real-life characters and companies that intersect and tangle together in a game of tug-of-war." GQ
"It also cleverly mimics the structure of Tetris itself: straightforward and engaging, without any extra bells and whistles."
School Library Journal, starred review
"The blocky paneled illustrations are reminiscent of early video game graphics, and the compact text uses dialogue effectively to break up narrative sections and keep the unfolding drama personal rather than historically distant."
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Gr 9 Up—Brown immerses readers in the complicated origins of one of the world's most popular video games, Tetris. Its creator, Alexey Pajitnov, was a computer scientist who became obsessed with how games and puzzles affected human psychology. Before long, Pajitnov became caught up in a prototype he'd designed based on a childhood game and shared it with his friends. Soon all of Moscow was consumed by what would eventually be called "the game that escaped the USSR." The art style is reminiscent of the Cyanide and Happiness comic but whimsical in tone. It also cleverly mimics the structure of Tetris itself: straightforward and engaging, without any extra bells and whistles. With the recent Nintendo release of the hit cell phone game Pokémon Go, this title is a timely explanation of the origins of the gaming world, particularly when it comes to the rivalries among various gaming companies. The story resonates and will appeal to fans of Jim Ottaviani's Feynman and Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas. VERDICT This quick, thoughtful read will find an audience among teens interested in pursuing a career in video game design or those who wonder just how video games like Tetris have spread like wildfire.—Chantalle Uzan, New York Public Library
A graphic narrative that clarifies a complicated series of international negotiations, making the story interesting even for those who don’t care about video games.An ambitious and accomplished illustrator, Brown (Andre the Giant, 2014, etc.) streamlines a story that encompasses Japanese technology, Russian software development, American licensing, international business practices, and a worldwide obsession sparked by a simple game. He also provides context that traces the creative impulse for designing games back to cave paintings and suggests that, from earliest recorded history, “the player isn’t just having an imaginative experience. They’re practicing analytical and strategic skills.” But most of all, “fun is the motivator for all of this!” Brown’s book is much more fun than most accounts of business deals, as the narrative shows how a puzzle gaming craze began in Russia, a country where copyrights and royalties were foreign concepts and where early Tetris passed from hand to hand. “The idea of selling the game as a product never crossed his mind,” writes the author of Soviet software developer Alexey Pajitnov. Though the game lacked the rich visuals or propensity for violence that would mark other video game sensations, it became globally contagious. “People played so much and so often that they experienced visual hallucinations,” writes the author. “People would continue to see Tetris pieces falling after they’d stopped playing. It became known as the Tetris Effect.” It also became a gold mine and sparked plenty of disputes as foreign rights and emerging technologies led to contentious legal battles. When the “Tetris merry-go-round” stopped, Pajitnov was initially left with “no compensation. Any money that might have gone to him went to the Soviet government….They couldn’t even pay him a bonus.” Ultimately, it ended well for Tetris’ creator, who moved to the United States, where “he was pursuing his true passion in life” and was belatedly rewarded for his efforts. A clean and engaging visual style supports a story that sustains narrative drive, humanizing the characters and making readers care about every development.