Ed and his buddies are right on the brink of adulthood, with one foot in their teen years and the other stepping into what some might call the rest of their lives. But it's the foot in their teen years that roots this book in the young adult lit genre. After all, what are nineteen year olds if not young adults? But since the YA genre isn't just about the characters, it's important to note that this book is written for a young adult audience too. It deals with tough questions that come up when you're staring down the rest of your life, and offers some insights into how to make your way forward.
Does our main character transform from a lost and pretty checked out teen into a man ready to take on the world? Yup. Does Ed develop a clearer sense of the way the world operates and his role in it as the story unfolds? Absolutely. When the book ends, is he poised to stand tall and thrive, to take responsibility for himself and the life he leads? You know it. And now you also know that this means this book is definitely a coming of age tale.
The plot is driven by twelve clues and our main character's quest to solve them, and culminates in an encounter with the mysterious man who's sent him on this wild goose chase. In other words, Shmoopsters, it's a mystery. But you probably figured that out already.