Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow

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He just keeps Rollins...
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Reader reviewed by Dave

James Rollins has created a great story in his first foray into young adult literature.  Jake Ransom, an aspiring archeologist, and his sister, Kady, are invited, all expenses paid, to the grand opening of a museum exhibit in London.  The artifacts on display are the same ones their parents had unearthed before mysteriously vanishing three years previous.  While viewing the exhibit, they are transported to what appears to be another world where peoples from many different civilizations throughout history have been collected and, with the help of the protective valley and life-size pyramid of the artifact that seems to have transported to this new world, allows all within to be safe and speak a common tongue. 

Unfortunately, all is not well in the valley.  The evil Skull King, banished from the valley years ago for the alchemy atrocities he created in his chambers, wishes to return and claim the valley, and the pyramid, for his own.  Can Jake, with the help of his sister and their new 'classic' friends stop the Skull King from taking over the valley and the peoples who live there? 

This was a great book.  I love when adult authors bring their unique styles and seamless storytelling to the young adult world.  Too often, young adult novels feel too contrived, too formulaic.  James Rollins has done an amazing job creating a world that truthfully feels all its own without feeling unrealistic.  Jake Ransom is a hero that, although slightly more knowledgeable than the average reader in ancient civilization lore, reminds me of a young Indiana Jones or Robert Langdon.  We don't question their knowledge and even depend on it to create a compelling story.  Overall one of my favorite young adult fiction reads this year.

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Smart & Fun
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Reader reviewed by Juliann

teenagers Jake and Kady Ransom come from a long line of archeologists and
adventurers. Jake is preparing to be an adventurous archeologist. He studies
history, science and taekwondo, and practices his expedition skills digging up
fossils in his backyard. Kady, while also very intelligent, is not so studious.
She is a popular cheerleader who is more concerned about her social schedule
than following in her ancestors footsteps.


years ago, their parents disappeared without a trace while on a Mayan
expedition. While attending a British Museum event featuring artifacts
recovered by their parents, Jake and Kady are transported to another world.


is inhabited by plants, animals, and people from different places in time
(e.g., dinosaurs, Neanderthals, Mayans, and Romans). While searching for a way
home, Jake and Kady join with the inhabitants to fight the Skull King, a dark
lord who wants to destroy the peaceful village.


The Skull
Kings Shadow
is a
fast-paced adventure that combines fantasy, mythology, science and history.
Rollins creates strong characters and a vivid world. While a complete story,
the broader questions are left unanswered. As the first in a series, the reader
will have to read the entire series for the answers. The Skull Kings Shadow
is an Indiana Jones adventure that
will hopefully inspire young readers to explore the history and science revered
in the book.

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Can't wait to see what happens in the next book
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Reader reviewed by Debbie

Ive read all of Rollins adult books and have really enjoyed them.  I
was curious how good a story targeted more at young adults would be and
was surprised to find I probably enjoyed this more than any of his
adult books.  Although, that may change as I am excitedly waiting for
his next Sigma series book, The Doomsday Key,
to come out next month.  The concept behind this story was quite
original and pulls together the mystery of time travel, the pyramids,
Atlantis and more.  The world Rollins created is amazing as we how
people from the Neanderthals to Romans to Native Americans are brought
together and live in relative harmony.  I cant wait to find out why
this diverse group of people were brought together and what does the
Skull King have in store for it.  There is also the mysterious
Bledsworth corporation who we have yet to find out what role they will
play.  An exciting adverture along the lines of Indiana Jones that both
young and old will enjoy.

Reprinted here with author's permission.

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Different worlds collide...
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Reader reviewed by Krista

Three years ago, Jake and Kadys parents disappeared on a mysterious
expedition. Now, Jake is 13 and an aspiring archaeologist, while his
older sister Kady cares about popularity. Then, a strange envelope
signed to Jake and Kady shows up on their doorstep. The envelope
contains an invitation to a museum exhibit that features artifacts
discovered on the last expedition of the Ransoms. The next thing they
know, Jake and Kady are transported to another world that includes
t-rexes, cavemen, Mayans, and Romans!

I received this book from Harper Childrens First Look Program
before it ended. I did not really know what to expect. Most children
adventure novels for me are average or miss. This one was average, but
the novel included some great parts. I liked how Jake and Kadys
parents mysteriously disappeared. It hooked me to the novel before I
even started reading. I also liked the world (Calypsos) that Jake and
Kady find themselves in. Rollins created a world with so many secrets
and oddities. I mean where else can you find Mayans and Romans
together? ;)
Another thing that I really liked was the history in the novel. Rollins
included facts from many ancient civilizations. Instead of just giving
readers another adventure novel, Rollins also gives a history
lessonone thats far more entertaining than my World History class. I
also liked how Rollins left questions unanswered but did not end in a
major cliffhanger. It was a great way to end the first novel of a

Now for the negatives. I thought that most of the characters were
boring and cliche. There was nothing unique about Kady, and Jake was
not much better. The lack of uniqueness made the main characters
uninteresting, which is never good. The only minor characters I
particularly liked were Pindor (Jakes friend) and Pindors brother.
Considering this book focuses on adventure, I can overlook some of the
issues I had with characters.

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