14 year-old Amy and 11 year-old Dan Cahill live alone in a small dingy apartment with a string of live-in au pairs, hired and fired on the whim of their guardian, Great-Aunt Beatrice. Since the death of their parents their only bright spot in life has been the visits with their grandmother, Grace. Now with her death, that too is gone. When the Cahill clan is surprised with a huge adventure during the reading of Grace’s will, neither Amy nor Dan have any idea how much more hardships they are about to endure.
A number of different Cahill families are offered the chance to take a million dollars per person or refuse the money to receive a clue that might lead them to the most important treasure in the world; as well as make them powerful beyond belief. Knowing Great-Aunt Beatrice will find some way to cheat them out of their money, Amy and Dan decide to accept the clue. Thus begins their spiral into the unknown world of their family history.
39 Clues chronicles the adventures of Amy and Dan as they strive to find all the clues before their other family members. Neither have any idea how deadly serious this game will turn out to be. Fires, explosions, poisons, and relatives who want to kill them are only part of the adventures. In this first book, Amy and Dan learn they are related to Benjamin Franklin, visit the Catacombs of Paris and are the first of the Cahills’ to find the second clue; which puts them right at the top of the hit list with all of the other family members. As they race across the country searching for the 39 Clues and competing against people with unlimited money, resources and knowledge; they have to wonder if they are really capable of staying in this race. If they do, they then have to decide if they have what it takes to be the top Cahill.
I bought this book as a Christmas present for my son. When he blew through 39 Clues; Book One – The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan and begged for the second one in the series, I knew we had a winner. After he finished the second book, One False Note by Gordon Korman, in less than a week, I had to find out for myself what the fuss was all about. The moment I picked up book one, I was hooked. I sat down to read and didn’t put it down for four hours. I blew through book two just as fast.
When I was researching these books, I found they will all be written by a different YA author. I honestly think this will be a fun and interesting twist. For those people who hate to get started with a series, only to dread the long wait for the next book to be released, this series has a very cool release schedule. With 10 books scheduled for the series, they are set to release so that the 10th book comes out September of 2010. So no long waits. The other neat thing about this series is the trading cards and the on-line game you can play. Who doesn’t like this kind of multi interaction? And if you need more of an incentive to check them out, you can actually win cash by playing the games.
If you haven’t guessed my intentions yet, then let me spell them out for you. I LOVE THESE BOOKS. Set in the same vein as the movie, National Treasure, I love the immersion into real world history that is embedded into each story. The idea that my son is actually learning something as he uses his brain to figure out the mysteries makes me feel a ton better about the time he spends reading fiction. These stories are hilarious and fun and scary. They work for girls, boys and adults. If you are looking for a neat series to read with your kids, this is definitely one that will hold not only their interests but yours.