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VINE VOICEon December 12, 2012
I think steampunk now has a cousin. I'm not sure what you would call that cousin - explorationpunk? - but THE EXPEDITIONERS AND THE TREASURE OF DROWNED MAN'S CANYON definitely shares blood with steampunk. There's the alternate history aspect. In the Expeditioners world, there was a certain machine that never existed in our world. The machine eventually led to the discovery of new lands and a longer-lasting age of imperialism. There's the fashion aspect. Explorers wear vests equipped with all sorts of nifty gadgets. But The Expeditioners is a different beast. No steam in sight.

Kit, Zander, and M. K.'s father, Alexander West, recently went missing and is assumed dead. But they knew where their father intended to go, and it wasn't where the government told them he died. When a mysterious man delivers a book to Kit, government agents start poking around the kids' business. In turn, they decide to investigate their father's belongings more closely. There's half of a map that's clearly important, and no one can decode Alexander West's secrets better than his children. They set out to find the other half of the map and go to where it leads.

THE TREASURE OF DROWNED MAN'S CANYON will appeal to fans of adventure stories. There's a nice balance in genders - once the children meet up with Sukey, there are two girls and two boys. Sukey and M. K. are just as tough as the boys and both have important skills that aid the group's quest. (No, neither of them are medics.) Kit, the brainy one, is also the narrator. Thus, I think girls and guys can enjoy the book. But THE TREASURE OF DROWNED MAN'S CANYON goes deeper than most adventure stories and asks questions about who owns the treasure. It seems like The Expeditioners will be a series not only interested in unexplored places, but also the people who live in those places and what will happen to them if they are discovered.

But that doesn't mean THE TREASURE OF DROWNED MAN'S CANYON avoids the tropes of adventure stories. There are lots of puzzles, and I love a story with puzzles. There are chase scenes and crash scenes and scenes with newly discovered species that are not friendly. I was, at points, strongly reminded of Jules Verne. And in my opinion that is a good thing.

Katherine Roy's art will help to draw in readers who might be daunted by the size of the book. (320 pages at a larger-than-standard trim size.) Her style is quite geometric and stylized, but not in an offputtingly arty way. The way she shades reminds me of topographic maps, which is quite fitting in a novel where cartography plays a large role in the plot.

I think THE TREASURE OF DROWNED MAN'S CANYON was a good beginning to the series. I felt like the characters fit fairly stereotypical roles, but there's room for growth. However, other parts of the novel were very developed. S. S. Taylor spent a lot of time developing the Expeditioners' world, and I'm eager to see more of it. The novel certainly ends with an interesting change in the Expeditioners' lives. (The next book might involve boarding school! I love fictional boarding schools!) I'm also intrigued by the fact Alexander West may be alive and hiding. The Expeditioners seems like it will have a strong story holding together the separate adventures, something I am definitely in favor of.

I liked this one, and strongly recommend it. Partially because in addition to a fun story the book is really pretty. And the cover turns over to become a poster! Who doesn't love posters?
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on November 23, 2012
This book will get your graphic novel obsessed child reading prose again. Smart, fast-paced storytelling combined with superb graphic-novel inspired illustrations, this book about three orphans (ages 14, 13 and 12) living in a retro-futuristic world, trying to outwit a dystopian government as they use their missing Explorer of the Realm father's map to discover a horde of legendary treasure is the baby that Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass) and Rick Riordan (The Percy Jackson Series) would have had together if they could.
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on December 2, 2012
"The Expeditioners" is an exciting ride from beginning to end. I love author S.S. Taylor's idea of unexplored places right under our noses.

Steampunk imagery combined with James Bond-like gadgets really help round out the book, but it's the characters that bring it fully to life.

Middle-sibling Kit becomes the voice of "The Expeditioners" giving familial insight with a slight bias. It's just the right edge to lend emotion and likability to the West family. While the siblings are brave, vulnerability also shines through, making them feel both real and relatable.

"The Expeditioners" is a fast 384 pages -- I read it in one sitting -- that's a perfect choice for either girls or boys looking for a new series that will keep their attention. I can't wait for the next book.
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on January 5, 2013
In her first YA novel, mystery author Sarah Stewart Taylor does an incredible thing: she smoothly presents a whole different world history, inserting into it a family of three teenagers whose explorer dad has, according to the authorities, been killed on an exploration, but who's left a trail of maps and clues for his kids to follow. But why, and to where? What unfolds is an old-fashioned tale of danger, bravery, cool puzzles, ghastly predicaments, fantastic gadgetry and edge-of-the-seat suspense as the Expeditioners probe into a mystery that their powerful pursuers will do just about anything to stop them from solving. It's a fine story! And judging by the ending, there's likely more to come from this inventive new storyteller in YA fantasy/adventure/steampunk/dystopia. (At least, I think those all apply.)
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on January 6, 2013
This is a great book for kids full of wonderful characters, a highly imaginative world and a great adventure story. The illustrations by Katherine Roy are as gorgeous as the story is engaging.

Additionally the book is not written is a way that talks down to children that if someone over the age of 18 wanted to pick up the book they would find the writing to simplistic. This is a book that parents and kids can read together.

The steam punk elements in book really help round out the world and give the book its own distinct flavor.

I encourage anyone who is looking for a good book for themselves or their kids to pick the Expeditioners up. I hope there are more books to come in this series.
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on May 25, 2016
I really hoped to love this book, and while there is some really interesting ground-work here, I just did not love it. The text lapses into passive voice quite often, especially for an adventure story. The author seems all together fond of the word "and" instead of using commas (Kindle locations 220, 414, 461, 521, and so on). The world-building, where it exists, was fairly good for a first-in-series, but could have been a bit better. Once the reader gets past the first few chapters, the story moves along at a fairly decent speed, despite the sometimes passive voice. Some of the bigger plot developments felt like coincidence and well-timed (and lucky) encounters with helpful outsiders, instead of cleverly plotted action by the kids.

There are a few plot points I found unclear. At location 100, Kit says he's 13. Location 270 reveals Zander is 14. However, the passage goes into say Zander is 18 months older. So does this "alterverse" Earth have a longer year than our own 12 months? Also, I didn't quite "get" the correlation between Alex's age and when the Muller Machines crashed and everyone realized machine-known world information was incorrect. Location 100 says Alex was 10, but location 392 references 8.

I did like main characters, "The Expeditioners" (and Sukey). M.K. does a bit of swearing, seemingly to make her seem "tough". I'm far from being conservative, but I can't help thinking there could have been far better ways to convey "toughness" in a middle-grade book than swearing. Especially since M.K. is a talented mechanic, the swearing seems a sad shadow for a strong, young female protagonist. More conservative parents probably won't approve, thus cutting down this series' potential audience. I liked hope each of the four kids has a special interest or talent that helps the group along. I also like the balance of the group, (two boys, two girls) once Sukey joins the group. Although, I hope the balance doesn't mean there is going to be an eventual (overdone) "love triangle" issue, pitching Kit and Zander against each other for Sukey's affection, in future installments. Sukey is my favorite character thus far, and I think the more positive female role model.

Overall, I enjoyed this book enough to move onto book two, but I bought both on the same day (at discounted "Daily Deal" price). It was a fun, if not entirely light read, and filled a few days' reading time. If I had paid full retail for the first, or neglected to get the second on sale, I'm not so sure I'd continue. Maybe I just "over-think" some things as a young-at-heart reader.
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on April 9, 2016
My 11yr old son (5th grade) started out complaining about the length of the book but really started getting into it after a couple chapters. By the end, he was asking for the next book in the series! Must have captured his attention and he got a 100% on the AR test, too. (AR = Accelerated Reader. See for info. It's a gradual increase in reading material to grow with your child's ability and increase in maturity subject matter. Schools that participate have access to online tests based on the books (like a book report) that give the kids 'points' to make sure they are keeping up with reading requirements- ie: this book was worth 12 points). So, overall- very pleased with the book the kindle book price was worth it.
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on January 1, 2013
I had the pleasure of reading this recently. SO IMPRESSED. Taylor develops a plot of twists and turns that any middle reader would find impossible to resist. By far the best young adult novel I've read all year- the pictures were a bonus!
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on March 13, 2013
Explorer Alexander West has disappeared under mysterious circumstances, but not before hiding half of a strange map for his intrepid children--Kit the brain, M.K. the tinkerer, and Zander the brave to find. The world the children live in is vastly unexplored,computer and electricity no longer exist. All of their father's maps and papers taken by the government, particularly the repressive Bureau of Newly Discovered Lands (BNDL). Dubbed the Expeditioners by their father they discover they must run from the BNDL and discover where the other half f the map is and where it will let them. A great adventure story with enough danger and suspense to keep even to poorest reader wanting more.
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on March 9, 2014
This is a steam punk story that received the Dorothy Canfield Fisher award. My sons (age 9) absolutely loved the story. It is a terrific adventure and leaves one impatient for the next story in the series. They could not recommend it more!
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