The 39 Clues (Books 1, 2, 3)

Amazing race meets addictive Facebook game.

I was on my weekly hunt at the thrift store and found a brand new copy of The 39 Clues Book 3: The Sword Thief, with all cards intact! (The sticker holding them in was unbroken!) And of course, how could I let that beautiful copy go to waste? I bought all $99 cents of it and took it home to my daughter.

Now, the daughter is pretty busy rereading her Harry Potter books, in time for the next HP movie installment. But she dove right into this one and it didn't take her long to finish. Before I knew it, she was online and asking us permission to get into the online game and she soon after used up her one-hour quota for computer use!

The books in one sentence each:

My thoughts

I heard about this series quite a while back, when Blooey blogged about it. Then I started noticing it on the bookshelves. But I never realized how complex this entire series is, with its card collecting, and the online game. Wow, what an incredible way to hook kids on a book series! While the online game can get any parent tsk-tsking with the amount of time it eats up, it does egg the kids to read the books.

Yes, the concept for the whole series is a little fantastic, but remember that this is a children's series after all! Fourteen-year-old Amy and eleven-year-old Dan, recently orphaned, discover that they belong to a family from which sprung some of the world’s most prominent personalities. The Cahill family has four branches:
  • Lucian - legendary leaders and spies, such as Benjamin Franklin, Theodore Roosevelt and Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Ekaterina - scientists and inventors like Galileo Galilei, Thomas Edison,  Marie Curie and Bill Gates
  • Janus - cultural icons like Mozart, Picasso, Van Gogh and Steven Spielberg
  • Tomas - daring explorers, discoverers, and athletes like Annie Oakley, Neil Armstrong and Babe Ruth
At their much beloved grandmother's funeral, Amy and Dan are faced with the tough decision: $1 million each or the first clue of 39 that will reveal the Cahill legacy. They choose the clue, and they start a journey of adventure and danger, pitted against their rich and often ruthless relatives.

The stories are fast-paced but highly readable. The "hook" for each book consists of a nice mix of things. One, of course, is the Clue - what is it? and will the siblings solve it? Two, is that each book focuses on a specific popular figures, allowing readers to learn more about them. Three, there are many dangerous run-ins with competing families, upping the suspense. It's the perfect mix that will get your child turning those pages.

Unlike many other popular series out there, each book of The 39 Clues is written by a different author, which I found very unusual. However, the dissimilarities in the writing aren't that apparent. I had first read Book 3 and was quite impressed by it. I followed it by Books 1 and 2 and realized that Book 3 was among the better ones, probably because the story and the characters had become better developed.   

Verdict: The series for youngsters to read, especially with the upcoming movie by Spielberg!

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© guiltless readingMaira Gall