The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones

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The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones
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Age Range
8+
Release Date
September 09, 2008
ISBN
0545060397
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Historical and Adrenaline-Pumping Adventure!
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5.0
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I fell in love with action-packed scavenger hunts that lead participants across the globe in the ‘90s after watching Alvin and the Chipmunks in “The Chipmunk Adventure.” I thought I would never find a scavenger hunt as entertaining as Alvin’s. After reading the first book in the 39 Clues series, “The Maze of Bones,” I realize I may be wrong, and I am kicking myself for not starting this series sooner.

The 39 Clues series opens with an eccentric old woman changing her will at the last minute before she breathes her last breath. The woman, Grace, is outrageously wealthy, and she has left her surviving relatives with two options: take one million dollars, or give up that skrilla for a clue that will be the first step on a race across the planet to obtain the mysterious source of the Cahill family’s power. “The Maze of Bones” introduces us to Dan and Amy Cahill, a brother and sister duo who are Grace’s grandchildren, as they try to beat their power-hungry and potentially murderous relatives in this quest.

What I loved about this first installment in the series is it is so fast-paced. Each chapter is its own adventure, and I found myself cruising through this book to find out how Amy and Dan would solve their hard-fought clues. This scavenger hunt is so outlandish, and Amy and Dan’s relatives are so ruthless, that each and every adventure is different with new riddles to solve and a rotating cast of villains to outwit or outrun. I’m shocked that there will be ten more books in the series, because the action in the first book alone could have filled a whole series in itself.

What was surprising about this action is that it’s also pretty educational. The scavenger hunt starts off with clues that can only be solved by a knowledge of Benjamin Franklin’s life, so Amy and Dan discover facts like Franklin’s invention of the lightning rod, his adoration of the French, and his essay on farts. The next book goes into Mozart’s life, and I can’t wait to read about Mozart tidbits I never knew before.

I’m also very excited that this series is written by multiple authors. The first is by Rick Riordan, one of the masters of middle grade adventure, who did the dang thing in starting off this historical and adrenaline-pumping quest. I’ve never read this sort of multi-authored series before, but I’m excited for middle grade readers to be introduced to a variety of authors to look into upon finishing these books. Thankfully, all the books are now in print, so I won’t have an idle period of twiddling my thumbs waiting for the next book. I’m off to solve these clues with the Cahills, and I’m hopeful they’ll be just as entertaining and gripping as the first!
Good Points
Witty protagonists.
An educational and action-packed scavenger hunt.
Eccentric old millionaires.
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Fun adventure
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Riordan, Rick. 2008. The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones.

First sentence: Five minutes before she died, Grace Cahill changed her will.

So, if you're like me, you're probably wondering...how does MAZE OF BONES compare to The Lightning Thief and the rest of the Percy Jackson series? Better than? Worse than? Bout the same? I'll try to answer that question in my review of this first book in a new series.

One of the things that first struck me about Riordan's writing way back when--before Percy Jackson became the ever-so-popular series that it's become--was how great he was at crafting sentences and hooking readers. The Lightning Thief impressed me because almost every single chapter began with a great first sentence. Something so clever, so witty, so catchy, so intriguing that you wanted to keep reading.

Here are a few of the first (chapter) sentences in The Maze of Bones.

"Dan Cahill thought he had the most annoying big sister on the planet. And that was before she set fire to two million dollars." (4)
"Amy Cahill thought she had the most annoying little brother on the planet. And that was before he almost got her killed." (21)
"Dan felt a dizzy rush, like the time he ate twenty packs of Skittles." (35)
"Amy could've lived in the secret library. Instead she almost died there." (47)

Of course, those are just the first few examples, and the pattern doesn't always hold up later on in the book...but by this point if you're not hooked in the story, then chances are you won't be.

The book is all about mystery and adventure. Dan and Amy are a brother-sister team who have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to discover the family secret and perhaps save the world. True, the premise is a bit of a stretch. Two kids from a crazy-wild-dysfunctional family--orphans, but what else would you expect--set out to prove themselves worthy of the challenge set forth by their grandmother's will. The Cahill family, the clan, has the secret of all secrets. And it's a secret that some feel holds the key to the world's fate--for better or worse.

Dan and Amy aren't the only ones looking to discover this secret--revealed one clue at a time--there are teams from within the Cahill family. And they're all in a race to be the first. There can only be one winner after all. And most teams will stop at nothing to win--even if it means turning evil and trying to kill the competition.

This first book reveals the first clue and its focus is on Benjamin Franklin.

There will be ten books in all. The second book, One False Note, will be out in December 2008, it is by Gordon Korman. The third book, The Sword Thief, will be out in March 2009. It is by Peter Lerangis. Seven more books will follow. The tenth one is *supposed* to be out in the fall of 2010.

My thoughts. The book is entertaining enough. The pacing seems to be about right. The characters don't have as much depth (at least not so far) as I'd hoped. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. After all, some stories are all about the characters and others are all about the action. And if you're looking for action, adventure, mystery, (and plenty of explosions) then this one will satisfy. The series seems a bit gimmicky in all honesty. Not that I think kids will mind that. The books. The trading/collector cards. The games on the website. etc. It's important to keep in mind that I'm not the book's target audience. What is important is if this book--and the remaining books in the series--will appeal to kids and keep them reading. Books need to be exciting to read. And series books feel a certain need. An important one. [It's not that Babysitter's Club had any *true* literary merit, but as a reader at that age, at that time, they felt a very real need. And I think these books can do the same.]

http://www.the39clues.com/info/about
BL
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Full First Chapter
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Reader reviewed by Libby

This is actually not a review. It is the first chapter and I just thought it would be nice to post it for everyone to see! This is an AWESOME book by the way!! :)
Here it is:

The 39 Clues: Book One


The Maze of Bones


By Rick Riordan


 


Chapter 1


 


Five minutes before she died, Grace Cahill changed her will.


Her lawyer brought out the alternate version, which had been her most guarded secret for seven years. Whether or not she would actually be crazy enough to use it, William McIntyre had never been certain.


Madam, he asked, are you sure?


Grace gazed out the window, across the sunlit meadows of her estate. Her cat, Saladin, snuggled beside her as he had throughout her illness, but his presence was not enough to comfort her today. She was about to set in motion events that might cause the end of civilization.


Yes, William. Her every breath was painful. Im sure.


William broke the seal on the brown leather folder. He was a tall craggy man. His nose was pointed like a sundial so it always cast a shadow over one side of his face. He had been Graces advisor, her closest confidant, for half her life. They had shared many secrets over the years, but none as perilous as this.


He held the document for her to review. A fit of coughing wracked her body. Saladin meowed with concern. Once the coughing passed, William helped her take the pen. She scrawled her weak signature across the paper.


Theyre so young, William lamented. If only their parents


But their parents didnt, Grace said bitterly. And now the children must be old enough. They are our only chance.


If they dont succeed


Then five hundred years of work have been for nothing, Grace said. Everything collapses. The family, the world -- all of it.


William nodded grimly. He took the folder from her hands.


Grace sat back stroking Saladins silver fur. The scene outside the window made her sad. It was too gorgeous a day to die. She wanted to have one last picnic with the children. She wanted to be young and strong and travel the world again.


But her eyesight was failing. Her lungs labored. She clutched her jade necklace a good-luck talisman she had found in China years ago. It had seen her through many close calls with death, many lucky misses. But the talisman couldnt help her anymore.


Shed worked hard to prepare for this day. Still, there was so much she had left undone . . . so much she had never told the children.


It will have to be enough, she whispered.


And with that, Grace Cahill closed her eyes for the last time.


 


................................................


 


When he was sure Grace had passed away, William McIntyre went to the window and closed the curtains. William preferred darkness. It seemed more proper for the business at hand.


The door opened behind him. Graces cat hissed and disappeared under the bed.


William didnt look back. He was staring at Graces signature on her new will, which had just become the most important document in Cahill familys history.


Well? a brusque voice said.


William turned. A man stood in the doorway, his face obscured by shadows, his suit as black as oil.


Its time, William said. Make sure they suspect nothing.


William couldnt tell for sure, but he thought the man in black smiled.


Dont worry, the man promised. Theyll never have a clue.

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*Caution* Will Make You Read
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Reader reviewed by Ben S

                The 39 Clues is a very interactive series. You get cards in each book, and can enter them online to try and solve the mystery.  At the moment there are ten 39 Clue books. Each book is by a different author. Book 1, Rick Riordan. Book 2, Gordon Korman. Book 3, Peter Lerangis etc.


                The Maze of Bones, by Rick Riordan, is about the Cahill family. With Dan and Amy Cahills parents dead from a bad fire, Dan and Amy escape with only their lives. Grace Cahill, one of the oldest Cahills, is now dead. There was a funeral, all of the Cahills were invited and were told something that could change their lives forever. You could either take a big portion of money, or take on a challenge that could bring them extraordinary powers. Dan and Amy Cahill decide on taking the challenge. The two of them meet up with Nellie, their babysitter, and they head off to Paris, France. When in Paris, they have to complete lots of puzzles and challenges to find the maze of bones. The maze of bones has something to do with Ben Franklin&&


                I think the author did a great job with starting the first 39 clues in the series. It is not easy because other authors have to make a sequel to the book(s). Rick has good details and explanations to imagine being in the maze of bones. Mr. Riordan could have done better by saying who said what in the dialogue. If you like mysteries, puzzles, and books that make you think a lot, you should read this book. Overall, I give the book 5 stars, maybe 6 (Ages 9+).

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Adventurouse
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Reader reviewed by jUli3

The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones, written by Rick Riordan is an adventurous, suspenseful, novel.  If you like to read books that make your heart skip a beat at every page, this book is the one for you.  You will not stop once you start.  The constant mystery in this novel leads you to become not only a reader but also a detective. The story is about what seems to be an ordinary family that holds unimaginable secrets.  The Cahill's seems to be nothing but brats craving for more fortune except Amy and Dan.  They are brilliant yet poor orphans who are trying to do what they think their parents would want them to do.


The other members of the Cahills slowly expose to a secret of the parents of Amy and Dan.  They may not know fully about their parents. When they learn something very mysterious, they will soon realize it is just the beginning. Rick Riorden creates characters with multiple personalities and makes your mind wonder which one is the true personality or if it has even been discovered.  He also forms characters that his reader is able to relate to themselves. 


The reader is able to understand the peculiarity about this family when Mr. Riorden shows how much the family members vary in personality.  Some mystery books expose too many clues; however, this book does not.  In order to thoroughly understand this book, you have to read it from all different angles, so you can find the clues. This book will take you to an adventurous, thrilling, startling, endless ride. Once you start, you cannot be stopped.

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Fast Paced Fun in The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones
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Reader reviewed by Page



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
disappoint.



 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.








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Very interactive and puzzle fun.
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Reader reviewed by Roberta

This book was fun because you can go along with the story and try to uncover the clues on your own. Each book comes with these really neat cards. You can start an account online and enter your cards while trying to solve the mystery.

The book starts with a reading of a will. Each family member is given a choice to either take a lump sum of money or take the challenge that could help them to obtain great power. Just when you think the two lead characters are done for, Amy and Dan overcome their competitors and come out on top. How they figure out the clues, the action and excitement keep the reader very interested in the story. You never know where its going to go. If a reader likes mystery and a book full of clues, this is the book to read. 

By: Roberta Straka 
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