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39 Clues: Maze Of Bones by Rick Riordan
Review by Gayle Surrette
Scholastic Press Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780545060394
Date: 09 September 2008 List Price $12.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: 39 Clues Website / Show Official Info /

The 39 Clues begins in September with the release of The Maze of Bones by Rick Riodan. This planned series of ten books will follow Amy Cahill (14) and her brother Dan (11) as they search for the clues that will gain them the power of the Cahill family and untold riches. The problem is that several other groups will also be searching for these clue and fair play, for many of these teams, is not an option. They'll do anything to win -- nothing is too underhanded if it means they gain the ultimate prize.

Amy and Dan were placed in the care of their great-aunt Beatrice. Beatrice didn't particularly care for them; she didn't even live with them. Instead they lived in their own apartment with an au pair -- a never ending succession of young women who came and went at the whim of Aunt Beatrice. The siblings didn't get spending money and barely had money for clothes or food. However, they regularly visited their Aunt Grace Cahill at her estate on weekends until her death.

When the will was read, Grace left a challenge: either take a clue which would start them on a journey to finding the power of the Cahill family and ultimate riches (winner take all and loser get nothing), or take one million dollars and walk away. Each team was given a clue and sent on their way. There are no rules other than to find the clue that the current clue would lead them to until they come to the end of the quest.

It seems that to follow the clues, Amy and Dan must not only solve puzzles but remember or learn history, art, science and whatever else is need to help them achieve their goals. They quickly learn that they cannot trust any of their relatives. They also learn that there is more to their family history than they were previously aware of.

The siblings must also learn to respect each other's strengths and weaknesses -- sibling rivalry is a luxury they can't afford because the other teams are playing for keeps and, yes, that does mean they could be killed on this quest.

The advanced reader copy, was only the first three-quarters of the book and I found it a real page turner up until I hit the end. So, no, reviewers don't know what happens to Amy and Dan in this book. In fact, I felt like I'd skidded into a wall and now I'll have to wait until the book comes out before I know what happened. Is it well written and exciting -- yup, you betcha it is.

There is an outline for the complete series and various authors will be taking on the task of writing the books to the outline so that they will lead the readers from one set of clues to the next. The books, however, are just part of the story. There's also an online game that can be played using the game cards included with each book. Additional card packs will be released throughout the series. Readers will have to learn about history and other fields in order to follow the clues. This may be quite gimmicky but it's a gimmick that I can go along with since there is a prize at the end and learning must take place in order to figure out the clues and move forward. Gimmick or not, this will be fun for young readers. Scholastic is targeting these books for grades 4 -- 7. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the ten book series.

Last: Brasyl / Next: Bring It On (Retrievers, Book 3)

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