I admit, Amy and Dan Cahill were not on my radar until recently. I am a bit above the recommended 9-12 age range. Somehow, I had
managed to navigate through the vast World Wide Web without coming across
Scholastic's interactive website or the many other website full of 39 Clues
chatter. But, now that I know, I can't believe what I was missing. The world of
39 Clues is a force to be reckoned with.
What intrigued me most about this series, is the fact that the
books were written by different authors. I was curious to see if the tone of
the series remained consistent throughout each book. I have been pleasantly
surprised, but I'll leave that discussion to my reviews on the other books. All
good series need a strong opener, and The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan, does not
Amy and Dan Cahill, the protagonists of this series, have a
tough decision to make. They find themselves sitting at the reading of the will
of their Grandmother, Grace Cahill, the last relative they had in the world
that really cared for them. Suddenly, they have to decide between walking away
with $1 million each or joining some of their most conniving and ruthless
relatives on a dangerous search for ultimate wealth and power. Learning that
they are part of the most powerful family in the world, is overwhelming, to say
the least. But, Amy and Dan are eager to honor Grace's memory, and join the
search for the 39 Clues.
What follows is an action packed adventure full of suspense,
mystery, and even a little comedy. Amy and Dan are up against relatives with
infinite resources, while they are left with their iPod wearing, only slightly
older then them, eccentric nanny and a backpack full of belongings. But, as
Grace always knew and others are finding out, Amy and Dan have their own set of
skills. Besides persistence, Amy has incredible research skills and Dan sports
a photographic memory and an ability to manipulate numbers. It might not sound
glamorous next to fellow competitor Irina's spy background or Ian and Natalie
Kabra's wealth, but it works for them.
Amy and Dan prove to be worthy competitors as they follow the
clues left by Cahill relative, Ben Franklin. In the process, they learn about
Ben Franklin's life and the reader does too. Some of the facts offered are
basic facts anyone in grade school or above would know. But, I found myself
looking up details here and there online and wishing I had this book in my
hands while studying American History when I was a kid.
There is much to learn about the Cahills as the story unfolds.
Amy and Dan have yet to discover which of the four Cahill branches they can
call their own. Each little clue found points them to the next clue and the
next clue and so on until they reach another big clue. And each time they learn
a little bit more about their family.
This first book lays out the other contenders in a comedic, over
the top fashion. We know the Holts, a family of five wearing matching purple
sweat suits, have more brawn than brains. Ian and Natalie Kabra with their
wealth are smug and beyond arrogant. Irina Spasky seems to have stepped right
out of a Russian spy movie. And Alistair Oh dutifully plays the aging and
arguably smartest "uncle" of the group. But, the characters develop
as we move forward and Book 1 provides the groundwork nicely.
On a final note, this book does have a little violence, as the
characters are out to stop each other at all costs from reaching the next clue.
However, the story is well written and the violence is not glamorized. If you
are just looking for a good story, check this book out at your local library. Beware
though, this series has a life of its own online and if you have a true fan in
your household, they will probably want the clue cards that are included when
you purchase the book.