Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The 39 Clues

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As a teacher, I feel like it's part of my job to keep up with young adult fiction so I know what kids are reading and what to recommend to my students.

It also gives me an excuse to read fast, fun easy books that I enjoy.

The series I just finished, The 39 Clues, falls squarely into this category.  It is a 10 book series that I recently acquired for my classroom.  The premise was intriguing - two orphaned kids set out on a clue hunt that promises to change the world and give them some sort of unlimited wealth and power.  Along the way they discover secrets about their family's role in the history of the world and come to realize the Clue Hunt that began with their grandmother's will is not just a game or a treasure hunt - the future of the world depends on their ability to stay ahead of their competitors and take home the prize.

The series is particularly interesting because it isn't written by just one author.  Each book is written by a different YA author - Rick Riordan, Margaret Peterson Haddix, and Gordon Korman, just to name a few.  The novels are increasingly intricate as you go along, so it's pretty amazing that so many authors could have a part in the same story line.  Each author adds their own flavor, but ultimately they are all headed towards the same climax in then final book, Into the Gauntlet.

The series, to me, started out somewhat slow.  I wasn't terribly impressed, but some of the pieces seemed interesting.  However, as I kept going, the story began to unfold like an onion, layer upon layer.  By the time I reached Into the Gauntlet, I couldn't put it down.  It was a breathless race to see what was going to happen next.

In addition, the books are heavy laden with historical references.  Amy and Dan, the main protagonists, travel the whole world following clues, most of which bring them face to face with major historical figures and events.  Being the history buff that I am, I absolutely loved the tie-ins.  Being the teacher that I am, I immediately starting thinking about all the many possibilities these books could bring in the classroom.  Cross-curricular material is very big these days.  Using these books in a reading class to talk about history would be a pretty awesome unit.

What's more, these ten books are not the end.  They segue into another series, Cahills vs. Vespers, which leads to another series, and another and's an endless story.  A story that has it's own website, set of cards, and secret codes hidden in each book! I don't know who dreamed up this series and all the details behind it, but it is ENORMOUS, and if you got a kid hooked to it, they would be hooked to it for YEARS.  There's so much involved.

Overall, this is a great YA series that I recommend to anyone who likes a good mystery and a good story.  If you are a fan of movies like National Treasure,  or treasure hunts, or conspiracy theories, or history, or secret codes, this series is for you.

Catching up on reading...

School started, and I haven't had much of a chance to update this thing.  That's mostly because I haven't had much of a chance to read.  Hate that!  Between school and this terrible, awful flu season, reading for pleasure has taken somewhat of a back burner.  But here are some books I am currently trying to dig my way through:

.1. A-HA by Kyle Idleman
2. Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Galbaldon
3. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes