Review: 39 Clues Is Pretty Kick Ass

I can’t get enough of the 39 Clues series and it just proves what a dork I am. It’s for kids, but it is a fabulous quick read. Initially, I thought I liked the first book, The Maze of Bones, because it was written by Rick Riordan and assumed that the second book, One False Note, would be of no interest to me because the author changes with each addition to the series. I had never heard of Gordon Korman, but I finished One False Note this weekend and am a fan.

One False Note picks up right where The Maze of Bones leaves off. Amy and Dan Cahill, with au pair Nellie and cat Saladin in tow, found the first clue, a  page of sheet music, and are en route to Vienna in an attempt to beat out the rest of their massive, secret family in the race to solve a complicated series of clues first and rule the world.  Outrageous relatives, from the massive, hulking Holts to the mega popstar Jonah Wizard, track them along the way. Every character in the story is shady in his or her own right and you really do not know who the orphaned pair should trust, if they should trust anyone at all. The mystery is never resolved at the end of each book, so you have to complete the series to get the whole picture.

The changing author thing concerned me, especially since it appears that at least 8 different authors pen this 10 book series. The editors do a fabulous job with continuity between story and in over all tone and characterization, however, so you wouldn’t really know that someone different is in the writer’s chair. Unlike the Harry Potter movies, which have different directors and different feels, the 39 Clues books are written and edited so that they are almost stylistically identical. This tactic has its pros and cons, of course, but as far as continuity goes, it works.

So far, each book has been fun and fast paced though slightly below my reading level. One False Note gets 4 stars.


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