Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Cipher” as Want to Read:
The Cipher
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Cipher

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  292 ratings  ·  70 reviews
You think your emails are private?
Your credit card number is secure?
That stock trades, government secrets, and nuclear codes are safe?
...th1nk aga1n.

Robert “Smiles” Smylie is not a genius. He feels like he’s surrounded by them, though, from his software mogul dad to his brainy girlfriend to his oddball neighbor Ben, a math prodigy.  When Ben cracks an ancient, real-life
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 24th 2015 by Viking Books for Young Readers (first published February 19th 2015)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Cipher, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Cipher

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  292 ratings  ·  70 reviews

Sort order
Ms. Yingling
Smiles is the son of the founder of Alyce Systems, a computer security company that has earned his father wealth and renown. It's been a bad year, though: his step mother was killed in a car accident, Smiles' father has brain cancer and is slowly fading away, Smiles has flunked out of high school and is trying to get his GED, and his father doesn't intend to leave him very much money. His girlfriend Melanie thinks they need "a break". Smiles neighbor, the quirky and perhaps autism spectrum affec ...more
Jan 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Cipher: John Ford
What would you do if you could hack into someone’s emails, credit cards, stock trades, government secrets and nuclear codes? What would you do if your father created a business that could do just that and more? Robert “Smiles” Smylie might not be the brightest light bulb on the technological block but he’s smart enough to know a good thing when it falls into his lap. A father who is a genius and software mogul and a girlfriend who is extremely smart, genius you might say and
Christine Osborne
Mar 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Ok so I enjoyed this book. It wasn't mind bogglingly good but it was a pretty decent read. Very engaging and full of unexpected twists. I was very pleased with how there was little to no predictably to the book, I love it when I don't know what happens simply bc I've read so many books like it. But the twists in this were great, not expected at all, but I guess that's the point of a con. I liked the character interaction and the characters who had the main POVs, Melanie and Smiles, had excellent ...more
Hannah Vardy
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the best books I have ever read. I loved the plot twists and the language and style used, and these elements combined to make a stunning read:
Eye of Sauron
This was entertaining, I guess, but that's about it.

The plot is predictable, unfortunately, and only by intentionally avoiding speculation (a good practice with mindless novels) is it possible to be surprised by the ending. The characters are incredibly flat, with "Smiles" being such a combination of a terrible name and a terrible person that I was almost rooting for that unfortunate plot twist.

No sympathy shall be given to Smiley Face.

The prose is engaging but bland; it sounds like a script fo
Dec 14, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Unfortunately, I got very bored with the book. I read to the halfway point and skipped to the ending. Reading Smiles' name as a name and not a verb is very disconcerting. Believe me. It is. Plot chugs along slowly in the beginning, and I really hate the exposition. The Riemann Hypothesis remains to be a fascinating point, but for all those who are bored of math (like me, who is right now suffering through Calculus), it's going to be a tough sell.
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
After reading the first few chapters, I was already disappointed. The two main female characters in the book were said to be intelligent, but this character trait seemed like something of an afterthought given that both girls were love interests. I wasn't super impressed with the way the author described any of the women in the story, often focusing on how attractive they were rather than anything else. There were several cheap lines throughout the book, including equating a mental disorder to b ...more
Vicky Voronina
Nov 04, 2017 rated it liked it
This book starts out slow, so I couldn't really get into it at first, but after a while it became more interesting, and there were some unexpected plot twists. Robert "Smiles" Smylie has always been average or below, unlike seemingly everyone else in his life from his father to his girlfriend to his 16 year old neighbor Ben. His father, in fact, is so intelligent that he created a new way to encrypt data, making him, and Smiles, extremely rich. Despite his luck in the money department, Smiles ha ...more
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Really, this book is for anyone who likes computers, mathematics, science, or an easy thriller/mystery read. It was fast-paced, full of great twists, an even some moving, emotional parts. But, when it comes to characters, this book leaves much to be desired. Looking back, I never really felt for any of the characters, EXCEPT at the beginning. The beginning really made me feel for Smiles, but as the story progressed, he became less relatable. The rest were… well.... ok? I’m not really sure how I ...more
Jonathan Brito
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it
The book “The Cipher” by John C. Ford is a mystery/ Realistic Fiction.This book starts on Smiles’s 18th birthday as he goes to pick up his first trust loan payment with his genius neighbor Ben. Smiles takes Ben to a Encryption Convention in Atlantic City where he ends up cracking the Riemann Hypothesis and has the key to unlocking the internet's darkest secrets. As Smiles is trying to help hide Benns discover from the government, hey quickly learn about Smiles’s dad and mother's message and all ...more
Aug 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: solid
I thought this book was going to be a throwaway attempt at a YA thriller. Then I realized it was about the Riemann hypothesis! How cool! I was obsessed with the Riemann hypothesis as a teenager, and this kid has figured out how to crack universal encryption! Wow!

Unfortunately, it was all fake and this is actually more of just a throwaway YA. The plot was certainly interesting the whole time, even though Smiles was kind of annoying. The finale was strange and anticlimactic, and the girlfriend thi
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I give this book a 4/5 because it was very good until the end. The ending was very confusing and had me a little lost. Also it does not exactly taste like a victory at the end of the book because he still got 7 million dollars stolen from him. Still a very good book and was intense,exciting, and funny. The main characters of this book added a lot to it: Smiles being a dumb,funny, outgoing guy butted heads with the book as it is about math and ciphers. The best and most exciting part was when the ...more
Jake Marchese
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book it has a very good story. It had lots of good details building up nick and and the story behind his friends and parents. I like how they progressed the story from nick finding out who his parents really were and finding out what they had done to nick having the key to every national secret on the planet. The ending is very good because some government officials kidnapped nicks friend and he wouldn’t leave him behind because he was the one who discovered and created the c ...more
Brian Meadows
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun-to-read, gripping novel. I enjoyed it. There were continuous twists in turns that kept you going to find out what was next. A bit of a technical background helps with it but is definitely not necessary to enjoy the book. The author wrote in a style that was very readable and interesting, stopping to explain those things that might not be familiar to the reader.
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book kept me on the edge of my seat every single chapter. By the end, I didn't know how to feel about any of the characters. With plot twists all the way, a basis of encryption, and the coming of age for so many of the characters, this is a must read.
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While this book moved a little slow at times, I never wanted to put it down. It’s twists and turns and keeps you guessing. And just when you think you’ve figured it out, BAM! Another twist takes you in a different direction. I’m definitely going to recommend this to my colleagues and students.
Samarth Khandelwal
This was a suspense and humor filled book that literally kept me up all night. I didn't want to put it down at all. The book really made me think of modern implications of an age old problem, the Riemann hypothesis. I really liked the humor in the book and the suspense it created.
Aug 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, fic, mystery
A fun romp through the world of internet data encryption with the the Riemann Hypothesis & prime numbers too!
Enaya N.
Dec 16, 2017 rated it liked it
It's a good action book with great twists, with the MC/ Smiles very relatable and the unexpected bouts of hilarity were nice surprises. However, it was a bit stereotypical. Overall [2.75/5].
Jun 17, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a good story. The chapters are numbers are all prime numbers.
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
It was fairly good. It does get a bit slow in the middle, but other parts make up for it.
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Given the current encryption debate regarding the U.S. government trying to force Apple to open up the iPhone of a dead terrorist in order to gather evidence, John C. Ford's, "The Cipher," is very timely. Boys, readers with an interest in current events, Math and Science wizards, and those who love intrigue and action, will find lots to keep them reading in "The Cipher."

The first two pages of "The Cipher" take us back sixteen years, and literally begin the book with a "bang." We then jump to the
May 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Personally, I found this book to be a thrilling adventure. I give it a 5 out of 5 stars. I am a math person so I found it really interesting when it connected to math and other computer facts. I enjoyed how Smiles and his other peers and family all share the genius intuition. I enjoy a good mystery and I got very excited how Melissa investigates further in her father's emails and searches to find answers- I loved the book overall. One of my favorite scenes was when Ben finds out he can pretty mu ...more
Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I’ve never really been into books about hacking and computers. I love thrillers and decided to give this one a chance. The Cipher was an intense techno thriller that kept me turning the page. Smiles’, Robert Smylie, father created a business that could hack into emails, credit cards, stock trades, government secrets and nuclear codes. In reality this could happen so it makes this books a bit scary. Smiles father wants to leave all his money to charities and not his son. His mother ditches the fa ...more
Liz Friend
The story: Smiles has lived his whole life in the shadow of his father, tech giant Robert Smylie. Wanting to do something amazing on his own, he figures our a plan to help his neighbor Ben sell a top-secret mathematical formula to the government (and keep a cut for himself, of course). Everything goes along just fine--right up until Ben gets kidnapped and Smiles loses one girlfriend and finds another, and even discovers the truth about his mother's disappearance when he was a baby. All in just o ...more
Isha Sanghvi
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
In this highly fast-paced science fiction novel, Robert also known as “Smiles” is your average underachiever when placed next to his tech mogul father, brilliant girlfriend, and whiz mathematician neighbor. He lives his days ditching college and his nights dreaming about acquiring his father’s business. But when his father’s business– well legitimately every business or organization or person in the world—could be in jeopardy, Smiles embarks on a journey of self-discovery and adventure. It all s ...more
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
First off I want to say I hate the nick name 'Smiles'.

Second off I hated the ending. Erin is a devious minx from day one when we meet her in the casino. There was really no evidence that she was a math genius. We don't really learn much about this except for her talent gambling. Maybe she is a bit of a boy's fantasy woman so this book will perhaps be a guy favorite. Is she forgivable? As a woman I would say 'no' but other readers might have different ethical lines that they draw.

Smiles is a re
Ricky Cardenas
Nov 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Cipher by John C. Ford was a very interesting read. The book was about a kid named Smiles (I know strange name). His father is dying of cancer and is the owner of a very large security company. One day smiles' freind makes an algorithm. The NSA gets in touch with his Freind and they arrange a meeting. Smiles sends his freind to meet the NSA agents while smiles operates the algorithm. Something goes wrong with the algorithm and Smiles' freind freaks out. The NSA agents kidnap his Freind and t ...more
Nov 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This techno thriller is eerily close to reality and shows how you may feel that your private information can easily become public. Robert “Smiles” Smylie has just turned eighteen and feels that he hasn’t accomplished what he has wanted to do in his life. Smiles is surrounded by his software company owner father, a brainy girlfriend and a “nerdy” neighbor, Ben, who is an Asperger’s genius and a math prodigy. Ben has been invited to attend a math conference at the
Billed as a techno-thriller. It is also a chiller- I just count on encryption to cover for me online- I vaguely know it's math and that super-smart criminals are working all the time to undo the good work of the security guys we depend upon....

Smiles is the son of a encryption genius. He is the owner of Alyce Systems the gold standard of encryption. A fabulously wealthy man, he intends to leave his wealth to a number of charities, not Smiles. (plot point)His mom inexplicably ditched the family w
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Endangered
  • All the Major Constellations
  • Sparkers
  • Wirewalker
  • Hit Count
  • A 52-Hertz Whale
  • Monstrous Devices
  • Die for You
  • The Classy Crooks Club
  • Juba!
  • Urban Outlaws (Urban Outlaws, #1)
  • The Nine Lives of Alexander Baddenfield
  • Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator
  • The Well's End (The Well's End, #1)
  • A Small Madness
  • Shutter
  • The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora
  • Phantom Wheel (Hackers)
Hi Good Reads!

I’m John C. Ford, author of The Cipher and The Morgue and Me. I grew up outside Detroit, Michigan before venturing off to Stanford University, where a desperate search for spending money led me to a reporter position at The Stanford Daily. The pay was terrible, but discovering how much I loved writing was priceless.

After graduating from the University of Michigan Law School and pract
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »