By Jackie Burrell
Tuesday, September 30th, 2008 at 6:00 am in Books.
There was so much buzz about Scholastic’s new “39 Clues,” a 10 volume, multi-author, multi-media game and book about a sister and brother’s hunt for the most powerful treasure, we couldn’t help but be curious. So we passed on a review copy to a favorite sister-brother pair of our own – Rhiannon, age 14, and Max Kelly, 10, major Harry Potter fans, devotees of “39 Clues” author Rick Riordan and book reviewers extraordinaire. Here’s their take!
“Touted by the publisher as ‘The next Harry Potter,’ the 39 Clues series is not disappointing in the sheer scale of the plans for the future of the books. The ten-book series is only part of the experience; thereâ€™s an interactive website and trading cards to go along with the story. Readers can become a Cahill and join in the hunt for the 39 clues and win fabulous prizes.
The two main characters, orphaned siblings Amy and Dan Cahill, are 14 and 11 respectively, making it easy for readers of that age group to identify with them. They are unique and spunky; Amy loves reading, and Dan is an avid collector. When their grandmother, their only loved relative, dies, she leaves her relatives with a secret and a challenge.
The Cahills are the most powerful and influential family ever to grace the earth. Their relatives include Napoleon, Cleopatra, and Benjamin Franklin, and almost any powerful figure in history that you can think of. Their grandmotherâ€™s challenge is simple: be the first to find the 39 clues hidden throughout the world, and the winner will be the most powerful person in history.
When Amy and Dan hear this, they risk everything to become a part of the hunt.
The first installment of the series, amusingly written by Rick Riordan, introduces them as well as a colorful cast of characters, all going for the 39 clues and the power and riches that come with them. With other great youth authors like Gordon Korman writing the next books, the series should keep fresh even through the long saga.
On the website, you can play games, find more information about the challenge, and become part of the contest yourself. Participants and readers can identify with four branches of the huge Cahill family – Janus, Ekaterina, Tomas, and Lucian. Like the four houses at Hogwarts, your branch in the interactive game is determined by your traits and personality. Each branch is competing against the others, but ultimately, every team is for themselves.
Unlike Harry Potter, the series is aimed at a very specific age group. Kids younger than nine might have difficulty grasping the concept, and teens might find it a very easy read. Itâ€™s doubtful that adults, who embraced Harry Potter, will be excited about this series because it is aimed solely at school-aged kids. Nevertheless, the story is fast-paced and funny, clever and interesting. It seems like a rollicking ride that will deliver throughout the ten books, website, and supposed movies.
Weâ€™ll see you on the hunt.”
-Rhiannon and Max