Friday, April 24, 2009

Review: The Maze of Bones

The Maze of Bones (39 Clues, book 1) by Rick Riordan
3.5 stars

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.


raidergirl3 said...

The sequel was written by my beloved Gordon KormanYeah, that's enough to get me to read it, or convince my son to look in to these books. Love Korman!

tinylittlelibrarian said...

Hee hee! He's been my fave for about 25 years! And I'm quite liking Rick Riordan, too, so it's off to a good start.

Penny said...

I'm not too sure about the whole multimedia blitz, either, but if it gets kids reading I can't complain! And I have to plead ignorance on Korman...I picked up the series because of Riordan!

tinylittlelibrarian said...

Penny - that's okay. a) Rick Riordan is cool, too and b) I'll be happy to tell you about Korman! :) He's a Canadian kids' author who started writing when he was in jr. high. I've been reading him since I was in elementary school. His first books, including a series about Bruno and Boots, roommates at a fictional Ontario boarding school, are HILARIOUSLY FUNNY and in recent years he's branched out into action/adventure for middle-graders as well as variously-themed YA novels.

Brimful Curiosities said...

Great series. The codes and clues are fun to follow. Best thing about the online gaming part is that they encourage kids to read the books. Should appeal to today's technologically saavy youngsters.

Penny said...

So I went to the library page (ipac) to look up Korman, and 65 books are listed! Which ones should I check out first? You mentioned a series with Bruno and you remember any of the titles?

tinylittlelibrarian said...

My fave Korman ever is a stand-alone called I Want to Go Home! It's about a genius boy who basically excels at everything and therefore hates everything. The only challenge he can find is to try and escape from camp all summer by stealing boats, trying to stay at the girls' mainland camp, causing a flood...

I think the first Bruno and Boots book is This Can't Be Happening at MacDonald Hall. My fave of the series is Go Jump in the Pool.

He also has several adventure trilogies - Everest, Shipwreck, and Island. There's a series of short action books about kids on the run from the FBI called Chasing the Falconers. I've read a few of each and they're pretty page-turning.

I haven't read much of his YA stuff yet, to my chagrin.