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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2010
The 39 Clues is the first series I've read that was written by a variety of authors. I wasn't sure how well that would work, but as the series ends, I can say that, IMHO, the books blended together well, creating a cohesive and very entertaining whole. The multi-author method also exposed me to authors I hadn't read before, including Margaret Peterson Haddix whose contribution, Into the Gauntlet, turned out to be my favorite book in the series.

As Into the Gauntlet begins, Dan & Amy Cahill, along with their au pair Nellie Gomez (who has been declared an honorary Madrigal) arrive in London, still reeling from the events of Storm Warning. Not only are they exhausted, but they're feeling defeated and unable to cope with the news that they are expected to unite the warring branches of the Cahill family. But there's no time to rest and regroup. Within minutes, the coded note waiting for them in their room is stolen by a taunting monkey and the clue hunt - revolving this time out around William Shakespeare - begins again.

Into the Gauntlet continues the series standard of keeping the chapters short and the action non-stop. The POV changed frequently, something I thought worked particularly well in this book because it gave us the opportunity to listen in as each of the characters started to make decisions about the direction they wanted their own life to take. I won't reveal any spoilers except to say that most of the characters make decisions that seem relatively wise.

Though I thought there were a few bumps in the road over the course of the series, I feel it ends strongly and, overall, there were a lot of things I liked. Readers caught glimpses of exotic locales and learned a bit about some of the most influential people in history. As protagonists, Dan & Amy Cahill faced danger, defeat and malice and continually struggled with knowing who to trust. But they kept trying and, even though frequently annoyed with one another, they supported each other and, along with Nellie, they hung together as a family. The books also have a lot of good messages concerning the corrupting power of greed, the futility and self-harm of hating others, the value of working together as well as the importance of valuing human life. Those messages were presented without preachiness and were mixed with adventure and humor.

All in all, I think the 39 Clues is a worthy addition to family libraries and is a great series for parents or grandparents to read aloud with family members.

Highly recommended.

Note #1
For those sad to see the series ending, there is more to look forward to:
* A bonus book by Rick Riordan, who wrote the first book in the series and the main story arc, is due in stores on October 26th. Called The Black Book of Buried Secrets, it promises to reveal more secrets about the Cahill family.
* A 39 Clues film, reportedly to be directed by Steven Spielberg, who bought the film rights in 2008, is scheduled to be released in late 2011.
* There are hints at the end of Into the Gauntlet that there may be more adventures in the future for Dan and Amy. Apparently, another mysterious family, more evil than the worst of the Cahills, have always been interested in acquiring Cahill powers...

Note #2
I just wanted to add that I really liked the whole 39 Clues concept - the online, interactive stuff, the cards to collect etc. - even though I didn't participate in anything but the reading. Some people might view this concept as a money-grubbing marketing ploy, but I preferred to look at it as a creative way to involve kids and attempt to draw them further into the adventure of reading. I have no idea if Scholastic feels the concept has been successful, but regardless, I salute them for giving it a try and hope to see more publishers offering innovation interactive reading opportunities for kids in the future.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2012
I liked The 39 Clues Series! I read the first one, The Maze of Bones, mainly because Rick Riordan had written it (confession: you're reading a HUGE Rick Riordan fan's review), and after that I continued to read the books, but I thought the series kind of went downhill after the first couple of books. And I must admit, I was a little worried, wondering, after I'd finished Storm Warning, how the last book would wrap up all the scattered details, made and lost over the series. And Maragaret Peterson Haddix totally did it! This last book made up for all the others! I really think it was the best (The Maze of Bones being my second favorite). It was the longest (over 300 pages), and the plot really started well and kept going strongly. The author did a great job of portraying all the different characters in the Cahill branch.

See, that's what I didn't like about the other books. They always were about Amy and Dan, and only a few of the other characters were in each book. In this one, Haddix makes sure to create a part for each character.

If you've read all the books before this, especially the last one, book 9, then you'll know that Amy and Dan have a big job ahead of them. They have to unite all the other Cahill branches together, after years of fighting. Will they succeed? The author does a wonderful job of writing this.

Also, I LOVED how Haddix portrayed Isabel Kabra as much more evil and villainy, instead of just silly and annoying.

But who will win the race of the 39 Clues in this final, epic book? As Ian Kabra finds, all the Cahill branches have together collected 38 clues - leaving one, final clue for them to find. But who will find it? The Cahill branches must all come together in the final step to the 39 Clues prize.

The book doesn't just end, though. Other forces are brewing. . . .

The Vespers, who have been Cahill enemies for years, are rising . . .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2014
As a second grade teacher, I became acquainted with the 39 Clues series through my classroom book club. However, my 9 year old granddaughter is really the one who inspired me to start reading the books. After reading Book One, I was hooked. The books are filled with fascinating details about history and geography. The story line is well written and fast-paced. I can't put them down! These adventures are perfect for strong readers ages 9 and up.
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on April 29, 2012

Amy and Dan arrive in England completely disheartened. Somehow the clue hunt seems more impossible than ever before, because now it's not just about out distancing cut throat relatives intent on killing them while solve the mysteries of their family history. Now they're tasked with something even more impossible, not only were they supposed to win the crazy clue hunt, they were supposed to unite a family that has been feuding for more than 500 years. They were supposed to befriend the woman who murdered their parents. How can an 11 year old boy and a 14 year old girl possibly do what no one in 500 years of trying has been able to achieve? And is being a Cahill, a Madrigal worth uniting with their parents' killer?

Like with the three previous 39 Clues novels this was rated on first reading and if anyone ever finds my notebook of 25 plus handwritten, unposted reviews, I'd probably kiss them because it's nowhere I can find it. But since I did take the time to rate it on Goodreads first I'm sticking with my initial rating even though I might not hit on all the same point in my review written after rereading the novel.

The final leg of the clue hunt was by far my favorite in the series. While it does include some historical information about Shakespeare, a Madrigal Cahill, because of the task before Amy and Dan, that is a little on the backburner in this novel. However, considering all these novels are fairly short in length and Haddix has the task of topping it all off the fact that she still managed to educated a little is to me quite impressive. Like with the last few books most of the focus here is on the characters, watching them reflect and grow. And you start to see motivations behind each character's actions. Haddix makes the pictures clearer and begins the set up for the spin off series to come. While it does have a little bit of action throughout the book, the major action scenes don't occur until later portions of the story. However the book remains a well written, close third person story with multiple points of view since readers would expect nothing less from the writers of this series. Haddix manages to deliver all the readers have come to expect from the 39 Clues books and more.

Like I mentioned about this story follows the theme of the last few books which have been character focused and driven. She brings back previously eliminated characters and shows depth and growth in almost every clue hunter we've met. Each character of importance seems to have some sort of inner war and turmoil going on inside them, well at least most of them do. Mary Todd Holt and her daughters remain pretty one dimensional as they have for most of the series, the real players from that family have always been Holt and Hamilton. Ted and Ned Stirling are also pretty flat, but Sinead is given some depth as she battles with memories of the accident at the museum and works to overcome her fears. You can feel her fear and worry over her brothers even though the face she presents to the world is quite ruthless. You can also see her starting to connect with Amy whether she really wants to or not. Mr. McIntyre is still a bit of a puzzle, I wouldn't say one dimensional, but at the same time we still don't know him too well. The one that threw me for a loop was Fiske Cahill, better known as the man in black. The whole series he's been this evil foreboding presence and even in the last book when we learned who he was he was kind of no nonsense, this is what we expect and you're going to do it. But in this novel he's all caring and taking chances on Amy and Dan. He's gone from the enemy to worrying about them? I don't know if I'd really call it out of character since Fiske doesn't' really get developed as a character until this book, but it is kind of shocking you know? Holt is given a decent depth in this novel for the first time as well. You can see how he's got the best of intention for the clue hunt. Yeah, he's definitely made some really bad decisions in the clue hunt and he doesn't show a whole lot of remorse for that which is unfortunate. But Holt's entire life he's kind of been a screw up. The whole Cahill family, even those in his own branch, has looking down on him and made fun of him. What Holt really wants is some respect and he doesn't even seem to want it for himself. He wants respect for his children. Holt wants more for his children than he's had himself and he's willing to go to any lengths to get it. Yeah his moral compass is pretty off and he's not the brightest bulb in the bunch, but it's kind of nice to see that underneath it all, he means well. While the rest of the characters maintained excellent depth, their personal struggles were mostly what they've been facing in the past few books and we get more detail on that and watch as these characters mature and come to real decisions about their moral dilemmas.

Overall it's a stunning and slightly unexpected conclusion to the clue hunt. In some ways I'm sad to see it end, but in others we don't have to let characters go because we're turning a new corner with these characters and I'm pretty excited to see where that leads. Highly recommended to middle grade readers.
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on October 4, 2010
When Grace Cahill passed away, relatives oozed out of the woodwork in hopes of getting their hands on her fortunes. But Grace wasn't your typical old lady, and she didn't leave this world in a typical fashion either. Instead of a will and an inheritance, she left behind a quest involving 39 clues that lead to a vast wealth and the highest authority imaginable. Now, six teams of Cahill relatives are racing around the world, chasing after intricately placed clues left behind by other famous Cahills, including Ben Franklin and Mozart.

Fourteen-year-old Amy and her 11-year-old brother, Dan, make up one of the teams. Orphaned and unwanted by everyone except their beloved (and now deceased) grandmother, the siblings don't have anything to lose and have decided to go for it. But unlike their opponents, they have no money, no connections and no special training, not to mention the fact that they're just kids. This team has the odds seriously stacked against them. But they do have a very cool au pair (a sort of domestic servant) traveling with them, and above all, a great deal of spunk, smarts and determination. The race is on, and there aren't any rules.

In the much anticipated series finale, Amy and Dan, along with their au pair Nellie, stumble into London in a fog of exhaustion. Overwhelmed by the shocking news that Mr. McIntyre and Uncle Fiske unloaded on them and still suffering from the shock and grief of Lester's death, they barely have the energy to breathe, let alone continue the monumental task of the clue hunt. But the other teams aren't pausing for a single moment, and Amy and Dan absolutely can't let the power of the prize fall into the hands of the evil Isabel --- so the search continues.

A lead slipped under their hotel door points them towards another Cahill relative, so they set off to see a Shakespeare play. Dan isn't very excited about the prospect, but even the theatre becomes explosive when the Cahills get involved. And this time, it's a complete Cahill reunion with every team of the hunt present, including a team not seen since the beginning: Sinead and her brothers, Ned and Ted, are back and seething with revenge and determination.

As they race for the finish line and the final clue, some of the teams are cracking in their resolve. Ian and Natalie are questioning their mother's motives and methods, and their own involvement in her schemes. Hamilton, too, feels guilt about his family's responsibility for the explosion that almost killed Sinead and her brothers. Jonah also is rethinking his part in the hunt, and even Alistair is realigning his priorities. This is a spark of hope for the Madrigals, who really only want to bring the feuding branches of the Cahill family back together. And in the end, in a vital, heart-pounding, final test, the five branches must work together for the last clue and the ultimate prize --- their very lives!

Margaret Peterson Haddix flies in with splendor and finesse to bring this exciting series to an end. In keeping with the tradition of the series, Haddix offers mega amounts of adventure and excitement, some humor, and lots of heart. In addition, she introduces Shakespeare to her readers, sharing many of his original and creative expressions and insults. She also weaves the importance of integrity, love, family and forgiveness into the story, but without sounding cheesy or preachy. This has been such an awesome series, starting with the clever idea of inviting various authors and their many talents to share in the ride, including famous people throughout history, and integrating ingenious riddles and clues.

The 39 Clues will live long in the memories of its fans, be read over and over, and be shared with friends and family. Many thanks to all who made this fun and amazing series a reality!

--- Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman, author of FINDING MY LIGHT
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on October 3, 2010
Let me just say that, all in all, I absolutely ADORE the 39 Clues series. It's so different from other books in plot, and there's suspense, action, mystery, humor, and it's very informative, too. I know things about historical figures like Mozart I never would have before. It's in my top 5 favorites.
Into the Gauntlet, I noticed, had a slightly different feel to the book's appearance. The '39' emblem on the binding is black instead of blue, creating a sort of creepy effect. And the 39 clues glass oval on the cover has begun to break apart, blue shards scattered everywhere, surrounded by 1 key for each branch. It is also thicker than all of the other books, I noticed when I bought it and even more when I put on my bookshelf.
So, the book starts with Amy and Dan totally worn-out and depleted: they don't want to win the 'Madrigal way' because they believe it is impossible. How can they reunite the family AND get all the clues? Everyone hates each other, and they can't imagine trying to create peace between their back-stabbing relatives. And they cannot, by any means, try to reconcile with Isabel Kabra, the most evil, cruel, heartless person in the world. The killer of their parents. Murderer of Irina, Lester, and who knows who else will be added to the list...
**Minor Tiny spoilers**
I don't want to spoil the book for you, but I want to assure you that it ends pretty happily and that they will lead a normal life for a short time. Amy is nervous about starting high school, which Dan and Nellie (and me) think is hilarious considering she just survived the treacherous clue hunt.
**End Minor Tiny Spoilers**
Throughout the book, many issues are confronted, those of being a good person, making the right choices, being resourceful, keeping a cool head in a dire situation. The competition (Ian, Natalie, Hamilton, Eisenhower, Alistair, Jonah) are less bloodthirsty and are becoming more humane with their choices. I was so happy to see that they were all becoming better people.
This was one of the best books in the series (actually, THE best) and you will enjoy it! Incredible secrets are revealed and plenty of action surrounding the story. I was up late reading it. :)
So buy this fantastic conclusion of this great series and have your mind blown away. Trust me, you won't regret it.
P.S. A new character appears. Well, 3. You already know them from before, and I had no idea they would be able to return to the hunt.
P.P.S. I decoded the secret message in the book. It is: "The Cahills aren't the only ones looking for clues..." (no ellipse, I just added it for effect)
OMG. I really hope they come up with a follow-up series to this! I'm just so sad that it's over already! I feels like yesterday I picked up the Maze of Bonse...
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"Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;" -- 1 Peter 3:8 (NKJV)

If you've read the prior nine books, why would you stop now? What's the fun in that? Be sure to read this book. It will provide a nice peak to your experience with the 39 clues.

I normally don't read juvenile adventure series, but I was impressed by the 39 clues concept and the first volume, The Maze of Bones. The stories originally appealed to me for their educational component, often containing a combination of The Amazing Race and perspectives on famous people. The long list of original characters gradually began to take on personalities for me that went beyond their initial two-dimensional sketches. Naturally, I was drawn to the underdog roles of Amy and Dan Cahill as they raced around the globe with only an au pair, Nellie Gomez, and a cat, Saladin, to help them. Before long the story line became more complex and nuanced, as several talented authors took turns shaping the narrative. I felt myself getting almost physically younger as I read of the various adventures.

I had been worried for some time that the final volume would have to be a disappointment. After all, lots of the mysterious elements were explained in recent volumes. There weren't many clues left to find.

Although the broad shape of what occurred in the last volume didn't include any particular shockers, the events leading up to the ending were much more exciting than I had dared hope for. In addition, there's an underlying sweetness to the way it is told that I found to be particularly heart-warming.

For those who cannot get enough, there's another book in the series coming out on October 26, The Black Book of Buried Secrets, with an introduction by Rick Riordan.

If you went beyond the books and have been competing for the prizes, that excitement continues. I well remember being a youngster and competing in such contests. Although I rarely won anything, the adventures I had along the way are many of my most cherished memories.

Have fun!
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on June 24, 2011
As a conclusion to the initial 39 Clues series I found this book to be as engaging, detailed, and surprising as the entire series has proven to be. At the beginning of the series I was not sure about a series written by a variety of authors, but they have blended well and picked up the story with renewed enthusiasm with each new installment.

This book provides the reader with a quickly changing point of view which allows the reader/listener to hear from the characters as they made choices and debate what to do next. This was used effectively and made the book and characters more transparent and it was fun to hear my son, 7 years old, debate on who was really the "BAD GUY" and who was just trying to do what they thought was right. I really enjoyed the conversations that the book generated about good and bad . . . and how people sometimes do things that are bad without being really "BAD" people.

The book is full of challenges and attempted alliances and distrust amongst the branches, however, in the end the younger generation of Cahills (plus Alistar Oh) really come together to save the ones they love and make the best choices available to them.

We are excited to see what is going to come next after the foreshadowing that was heavy in the end of the book . . . Grace seems to have something MORE in mind than just reuniting the Cahill branches for Amy and Dan, those poor kids may never get a break! At least we hope not, we want another book!
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on December 17, 2012
Book 10 was, appropriately enough, the longest book in the 39 Clues series. Author Haddix needed all the page count she could get to tie up this series in a satisfying manner. She largely succeeds but there are some things that don't really add up.

Haddix does bring the various branches of the family together in a reasonably believable fashion. Fortunately, the previous books had laid the groundwork adequately so it didn't seem too rushed. The generational conflicts among the branches play out very well in my opinion. Especially well done is the growth exhibited by Jonah Wizard. There are also a few nice surprises as the book builds to its conclusion. All in all, quite satisfying, page turning, have to stay up another hour to finish it excitement.

But not every question gets a satisfying answer. The biggest to my mind is how did Amy and Dan's family ever get accepted as being Cahills in the first place? They weren't descended from any of the four known children of Gideon Cahill. So why is Grace (and later Amy and Dan) accepted as Cahills? How did Grace achieve her high status among the Cahill clan without belonging to any of the branches?

Perhaps the sequel series delve into these questions. This book and the entire series can be highly recommended to children and adults alike. Great fun.
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on November 7, 2010
Amy and Dan have an impossible task before them. They must find the last clue, which will lead them to power. However, they also must bring the family branches together to conquer the clue and conclude their mission.

They have no idea how to accomplish this. As usual, the branches of the family stand back and let Amy and Dan figure out the clues. Once the two have discovered the final resting place of the last clue, all of the family descends on the deserted island.

On the island, Amy and Dan try to impart their wisdom of working together. They fail to reach the adults, but they've already been working with several peers. When they reach their destination, they realize they need a member of each branch to continue.

Will Amy and Dan discover the final clue and understand the implications?

Greed, action, and danger each increase as the end of the hunt nears. Although it ties up the loose ends nicely, the final chapter of THE 39 CLUES leaves room open for more books in a new series coming out next year. I've thoroughly enjoyed each and every book in this series.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Rummel
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