Tuesday, January 5, 2010

So what do we think? 39 Clues book 1: The maze of bones.

Riordan, Rick. (2008) The 39 clues book 1: The maze of bones. ISBN-10: 0545060397. Please see criteria and full review at http://www.litland.com/

This book is really all about family loyalty and pride. Being orphaned for seven years, one would think Amy and Dan would have come to know one another and develop a closer relationship since they have nothing else in the world but each other. But they had not until this adventure began. The orphans demonstrate teamwork while the antagonists end up causing many of their own problems. This reinforces that crime or bad behaviour “doesn’t pay”. Good behaviour demonstrating moral character is successful throughout the story.

The author smoothly integrates details about people, places and things into the “thoughts” of Amy and Dan, and even of the antagonists (“bad guys”) so that it is rich in detail stirring the reader’s own emotions of wonderment, pride and loyalty, sadness, fear, and courage. Coupled with a creative vocabulary (when was the last time you heard someone called a “git”?) and a melding of the past with the present, Riordan challenges the reader intellectually and emotionally.

Perhaps also most impressive about this book is that which is missing: mean behaviour is not countered with meanness. When in a pinch, Amy and Dan innovate their way out of problems rather than resort to deceit, manipulation or violence. Authority figures are present and realistic rather than made to look stupid as in much of media geared towards kids. Cynicism and negativity are minimized. People, places and things are treated with respect rather than ridiculed or denigrated.

Overall, this was an exciting read, even for adults. With its rich composition, it captures the adventurer spirit of movies like National Treasure and Spy Kids. Competition with mean-spirited cousins is dealt with by taking the “high road” of integrity. The kids thoughts are always on family: Grace, their parents, and each other. Chapter transitions are smooth with effective cliffhangers. Protagonists demonstrate high standards, good character and virtuous behaviour, all of which becomes their strength and advantage over the competition.

Final thoughts:

Rick Riordan, best known for his popular fantasy series', picks up a new style while retaining his fantastic writing voice. The quality and detail put into the writing of the first book of The 39 Clues is far superior to many that crowd the shelves in the libraries. He approaches possibly violent or scary situations and writes them in a way that it tones down the frightening bit whilst remaining gripping. Though he writes in the perspective of third person, Riordan uses his writing voice to create three dimensional characters as opposed to just what an observer would see. Also, rather than have the standard brother sister fighting relationship, Riordan shows the deeper feelings of love combined with frustration between Amy and Dan. The Maze of Bones is a fantastic start to what is sure to be a seat gripping, page turning series.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment! We will review it shortly and look forward to discussing this book with you!