Thursday, January 14, 2010

The 39 Clues Book 5: The Black Circle

Carman, Patrick. (2009) The 39 Clues Book 5: The Black Circle.  New York, NY: Scholastic Inc. ISBN-13: 978-0-545-06045-5. See full review at

This book begins with word puzzles and mysteries to solve. Clues to find clues to the main clue! Along with it, the author sets the stage not only with details explaining the hunt for the 39 clues, but also Amy and Dan’s relationship and longing for their parents (p. 20).

Each book further develops one of the “bad guys” while also bringing more depth to the character of focus in the previous book. In book 5, Hamilton Holt shows more of his human side, willing to collaborate with Amy & Dan in order to please his dad. Irina’s character shows some concern for Amy & Dan, avoiding an opportunity to harm them, and we are given hints of some trauma in her past. While the bad guys remain a scary threat, they become more human too.

Amy and Dan’s superior pre-planning and information gathering definitely aid them in uncovering the clues by their deadline. We see their collaboration with and leadership of the Holts, taming their competition. Although the underdogs, they definitely elevate to being leaders in this race.

Final thoughts:

To those of us living in the west, Russia is a place of mystique and intrigue. With “secrets in Russia that had to be protected at all costs”, this feeling is captured brilliantly in book 5. Its colorful composition fuels the imagination.  New entries include a mysterious person directing Amy and Dan in their hunt. Planes, trains, motorcycles and on foot, the detailed description lets us feel as if traveling with the characters. The myths surrounding various historical persons of the last Tsar family add intrigue. We suggest quick Internet searches on these myths as you read along, and see if you can solve mysteries of history!

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