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The 39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers Book 1: The Medusa Plot by Gordon Korman
Review by Gayle Surrette
Scholastic Inc. Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780545298391
Date: 30 August 2011 List Price $12.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

The first book of a new series, The Medusa Plot, comes after the final book of the 39 Clues. It's not much of a spoiler to say that Amy and Dan Cahill managed to survive the quest for the 39 clues by coming out on top. They and the younger generation of each of the five branches of the Cahill family are now working together, or trying to work together.

Now working together supporting and trusting in each other is deadly serious. Someone calling himself Vesper One has kidnapped someone from each of the family branches. Everyone has lost someone they care about. Vesper One has set them a task to be completed or the hostages will be killed. When the first attempt goes awry he has one of the hostages shot. He definitely means business.

Amy and Dan are back to risking their lives and hoping they manage to get their task completed and free the hostages. Meanwhile they are each learning more and more about each other, themselves, and the members of the other branches. Family is being redefined for all of them.

There's a lot of dark in this book and parents may wish to read the book first before giving it to very young children. On the other hand, there are a lot of issues that arise in the context of the story that would make for some interesting family discussions. I'd encourage parents to read these books and then share the experience with their children. Amy and Dan may be fictional characters but they are typical young people dealing with a world where there is very little black and white and a whole lot of grey. Does the end justify the means? Does it under some circumstances? What is a family and what makes a family? Just some of the concepts dealt with or touched on. All of it wrapped up in an exciting adventure that keeps the reader turning the pages -- hoping against hope that this adventure won't break Amy, Dan or the fragile relationships they've forged with the other young Cahills or break each of them as individuals.

Korman is back on top. This story sets up for the upcoming books. However, it's not just setup because there is real danger here. Vesper One is an unknown as is the group he leads: the Vespers. The hostages may not make it. All the Cahills are playing catch up and hoping that they'll manage to hold together.

This is shaping up from book one to be an exciting new series that will live up to its parent series, 39 Clues.

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