Friday, April 24, 2009
Review: The Maze of Bones
The Maze of Bones (39 Clues, book 1) by Rick Riordan
Reasons for reading: This is a hot series for kids right now, so I wanted to see what the fuss was about
Description: "Minutes before she died Grace Cahill changed her will, leaving her descendants an impossible decision: "You have a choice - one million dollars or a clue." Grace is the last matriarch of the Cahills, the world's most powerful family. Everyone from Napoleon to Houdini is related to the Cahills, yet the source of the family power is lost. 39 Clues hidden around the world will reveal the family's secret, but no one has been able to assemble them. Now the clues race is on, and young Amy and Dan must decide what's important: hunting clues or uncovering what REALLY happened to their parents."
First line: "Five minutes before she died, Grace Cahill changed her will."
My thoughts: This was a quick-paced, interesting adventure story with a liberal sprinkling of educational facts, to boot! I liked librarian-loving, tongue-tied Amy and math-whiz, collector of many things, daredevil Dan. The history lessons in this volume focus mainly on Benjamin Franklin, who is even more interesting than I realized!
The evil relatives who are plaguing the Cahill siblings are suitably sinister - a former Russian spy wields poison-tiped fingernails, a dapper elderly Korean man wears brightly-coloured suits and ascots, there's a trio of triplets and a muscle-headed family who all bear the names of presidents.
I'm not entirely sure about the huge multi-media marketing campaign behind the books - there are trading cards with each book (problematic for libraries!), a website and prizes to be won online. But I like the use-your-brain/history facts slant and the books seem to be written by great authors - 10 different ones, which is neat - so the quality is there. If kids are online anyway, they might as well be solving a book-based puzzle.
The verdict: A worldwide scavenger hunt makes a really cool premise for a series. The sequel was written by my beloved Gordon Korman, so I might have to follow the Cahills to Vienna to find clues about a certain famous composer.