Well, for starters, the two authors are ranked 1A and 1B in terms of competitive Sudoku. Both have split the U.S. title last couple years, and Snyder took the World Sudoku championship in '07. Huang, no slouch himself, has won the World Puzzle Championship four times over. From these credentials alone, I think it's safe to say these guys know their logic puzzles.
And from the looks of "Mutant Sudoku," they look like they know where to get the good drugs too. Every single one of these puzzles takes the sudoku concept and goes all crazy making with it. The back of the book boasts "mankind has never seen sudoku like these," and they're totally right, well, with the exception of the sudoku on a cube. I'd seen that one before, somewhere. (Oh yeah, in the graphic up above!) Nevertheless, the puzzlemakers will have you filling in sudoku grids with fractions, on tiled floors, whilst playing Tetris, and on thermometers. Some of the more esoteric variations involve repeating or omitting a number in the regions; talk about completely ignoring the original rules!
We have some seriously ballsy reinterpretations of an already classic puzzle form that, frankly, never even needed this kind of boost in the first place. I love sudoku. I love the fact that the original puzzle can be very deep and rewarding without having to resort to gimmicks to make it more interesting. This book makes a compelling case for new gimmicks. Case in point: I've never been a huge fan of Killer as I don't think we need to really need to bring arithmetic to sudoku. (I think that's part of the reason Kakuro and Kenken never really took off: people don't want to do figures for recreation.) That said, one of my favorites in the book Target Sum Sudoku introduces some math (it's more groups than arithmetic, but whatever). This variation has circled numbers which combine to a target number in each row, column and region. So there's math, yet somehow doesn't feel like I'm doing my taxes. Bravo.
Have I mentioned this book is kinda funny? Who'da thunk that a book of sudoku would have humor, but it does. There's a goofy storyline (the directions really) linking all the puzzles claiming that a Frankenstein-esque experiment has gone totally awry. But the puzzles themselves are presented in a series of so-over-the-top-I-can't-believe-you-thought-of-that-let-alone-pulled that-off mini works of art that you can't do anything but chuckle at the creativity. (Say what?) Let's just say some of the harder puzzles are presented as an analog clock face, a volcano and the Borg cube (hello, "Star Trek" fans!).
Meanwhile, share this puzzle. New one on Wednesday.