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Ring of Fire (Century Quartet, Book 1) Hardcover – September 8, 2009


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Hardcover, September 8, 2009
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 660L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375858954
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375858956
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,259,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“The plot is masterful, with cliffhangers galore . . . and an ending that both satisfies and whets the appetite for more.”—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

P. D. Baccalario was born in Acqui Terme, a beautiful little town in Piedmont, Italy. He now lives in Milan.

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Customer Reviews

This book had really great pacing.
Assunta Sciarretta
The first few days she read it, she said it was good, but she didn't read it as often as she did other books and after a week, she said she didn't want to finish it.
Jadecat
This may seem like a small point, but these random and unlikely "feelings" and "clues" drive the entire book from beginning to end, and it's terrible story telling.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Just Trying to Help TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am chagrined to say that I didn't really enjoy the first half of this book, yet I will give it 4 stars anyway. Read on to see why.

For those of you who would appreciate an executive summary, here it is. Ring of Fire is a classic "clue hunt" book in the style of the Dan Brown's "da Vinci code". If you are a fan of great storytelling and seeing clues masterfully woven together into a surprising and compelling resolution... you won't find it here. That criticism being levelled, the book is "amusing" and "fun to read". There are much worse books out there. If you are on the fence about gifting this book to a teen, go ahead and do it. Its good enough.

Now the long version...

This story is juvenile fiction, and I am an adult. So reading it and writing the review require some care, because its easy to hold the author accountable to higher standards than necessary. Juvenile fiction can be great, but, by definition this sort of "clue hunt juvenile fiction" is part of a training ground for young adults who are still building their skills at story inference and deduction, with the story and its subplots geared on that level.

As a father of 4, I read a fair amount of juvenile fiction and enjoy watching the storyteller spin their tale, much as I might enjoy watching someone else artfully wrap a thoughtful gift for their child, and thinking to myself "oh, they're going to love that part". Unfortunately, Ring of Fire didn't quite deliver that feeling to me.

Overall, I found this book to be amusing. The basic theme of the book is that the kids have to unearth an ancient secret and "do some good". The story is constructed as four teenagers, each with their own "gift". The first book is mostly about Elettra, and she has some "power" gift.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Erik1988 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Rating System:
1 star = abysmal; some books deserve to be forgotten
2 star = poor; a total waste of time
3 star = good; worth the effort
4 star = very good; what writing should be
5 star = fantastic; must own it and share it with others

Blurb from back cover: "Every Hundred Years, humankind is put to the test. Every hundred years, four young people must take on an enormous challenge. Another century has passed, and the children have been chosen. The challenge begins in Rome, the city of fire."

1) I like the concept of a four part challenge covering four books with four kids who each plays a key role in completing the challenge

2) Right at page 8 my fears were realized when the writing of the character's actions, dialog and emotions was just HORRENDOUS. I don't know if this was due to the translation and/or the author is just a novice writer. Either way, it doesn't get much better throughout and only the cleverness of parts of the story keep the reader half-interested.

3) I like the cover and inserts. Eye-catching!

4) Did I mention the author seems to play the hand of God card too often?! There never is really any threat as things always miraculously work out perfect for our four protagonists...then again why wouldn't it? I mean after all they need to survive three more books. But still the suspension of belief was pushed passed reasonable limits in some cases.

5) If you don't want to care about the characters or appreciate the writing, then hold on to the mystery of the story. That has some meat to it, which is the main reason I didn't give this a one star.

I know. I know. I hate rating a book so low, but I read a LOT of YA books (just finished bk 2 of the Hunger games. Very good read!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne R. Arnholt VINE VOICE on September 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Ring of Fire is set in present day Rome. Four children with amazing birthdays meet and are pulled into solving a mystery that dates back to before the time of Nero. An amazing map, some special tops, and a paranoid professor give them clues for finding the Ring of Fire, a treasure that has been lost for at least a century. The kids know only the surface of the puzzle, but conversations among those in the know are presented to let the reader know that there is a deeper plot afoot. The children (2 girls, 2 boys, all age 12ish and from all over the globe) are chased by menacing characters and helped by unlikely females. Though the ending was not entirely satisfying, it is a first book out of four. A good read, but clearly only the beginning.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Myra Schjelderup VINE VOICE on September 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Elettra of Italy, Harvey of New York, Mistral of France, and Sheng of China all end up in Elettra's room by sheer coincidence. If coincidence is what you call it when 2 extra families are mysteriously booked in the only open room in the small hotel Elettra's family operates. The bunch of 12-year-olds, who seem to get on pretty well, and can speak the same language, find out they all have birthdays on Feb. 29th. It only gets weirder when they seem to cause a district-wide blackout then are given a briefcase by a man who later turns up dead. Urged by an unknown force, mostly emanating from Elettra, they work to solve the clues in the briefcase that have something to do with a historical 'Ring of Fire'. Events are set in motion, and they must work together to work against the evil killer (and whoever sent him) who's hunting them down.

Book 1 indeed - only about half your questions are actually answered, which isn't bad, just kind of sad (because I don't intend to read anymore). I wasn't sure if I liked the ending either. The plot is OK, though all the historical stuff is nice. And a couple parts did pleasantly surprise me.

I liked that it's set in Rome, and the author takes you all around historical places. The scenes were set very well.

The characters... not so much. I understand it's translated, perhaps not very well, but I felt the characters were not well defined. Like I could describe them a little as individuals, but for most part they weren't that different from each other. At least Sheng says 'hao' a lot, I liked that, and though its subtle I felt the characters had developed a bit by the end ('grown up' a little I suppose).

Their actions didn't always make sense. Now, it's a while since I've been 12, but even kids have reasons for doing things.
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