S672 Book Review: The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded

Title: The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded

Author: Jim Ottaviani

Illustrator: Leland Purvis

Publication Info: Harry N. Abrams (2016)

Suggested Age Range: Grades 9 and up



The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded is a graphic novel about the life of Alan Turing, the mathematician genius who helped stop World War II by helping break the Enigma Code. This graphic novel has multiple narrators, all who tell different parts of Turing’s story, and how he shaped the world. Not only was Turing a complicated man with a complicated history, he was also a recluse, a genius, and a gay man leading a secret life during a time when being gay was not just frowned upon, but also a crime.

Telling Turing’s story in this manner helps people who may want to learn more about Turing do so in a format that many younger people are drawn to. While the multiple narrators and flexible timeline can be a little confusing at first, the strong visual story makes it compelling and exciting.

Panels from the Imitation Game show strong lines and forward motion

The Imitation Game covers Turing’s early life from boarding school to his involvement in the military. Author Jim Ottaviani does a brilliant job of weaving the facts of Turing’s life with just enough additional information to make readers forget that they are reading a non-fiction narrative and not a fictional story. Turing was a real person, really persecuted for his sexual identity, and really the man behind so many advancements in technology.

Panels of The Imitation Game

Turing’s legacy is in his breaking of the Enigma Code. Had he and his team not finally decoded the Enigma machine, millions more people would have died and who knows how much longer the war would have gone on. Above, Turing tries to explain how his machine should work. But it doesn’t work quite like it should.

Decoding the Enigma Machine

With just writing and strong lines, The Imitation Game brings to life the excitement and power and understanding of the Enigma Machine. Above, one small tweak and the machine comes to life!

Turing’s life and legacy are worth knowing, despite the fact that who he was was mostly hidden from the world for decades.

Read-Alikes and Other Books

People interested in lives of pioneers in our recent history may like books like the following:

Websites, Activities and More

Help students learn more about science during WWII and more.



  1. Emily, up till now I’ve concentrated on the blogs of my “cohort group”, but with the semester winding down I’m taking the time to look at everyone’s blog. You mentioned in your “reflection” that blogging is something you’ve done for 20 years so I was not at all surprised to see how well-done and professional your blog is! I loved the crisp, clean look of your posts with the well-placed pictures and all the white space. Also, The Imitation Game with Benedict Cumberbatch is one of my all-time favorite movies so the subject matter of this post is a great one for me. Thanks!

  2. Emily,

    I have seen this book so many times while working in the library, and though it always caught my eye, I still have yet to read it. I am not a huge fan of graphic novels for myself, but I appreciate them so much. I think it’s such a fantastic way to write about history, and it seems such a good way to get “non-readers” interested in reading and learning. I think it’s important to engage kids in any way that we can when it comes to literature, and so I have a much bigger appreciation for graphic novels than I used to. This book looks really interesting. I enjoy the topic. I’ve always been interested in the World Wars, and I find Alan Turing pretty fascinating.

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