From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-"Find the twelve relics. You are the last." This ominous message in code from his dad's former professor sends Wade Kaplan, his astrophysicist father, stepbrother Darrell, cousin Lily, and her friend Becca on an around-the-globe chase to locate hidden parts of a time-traveling astrolabe built in the 16th century by Copernicus. Fearing that the device would fall into the hands of the evil Knights of the Teutonic Order of Ancient Prussia, the astronomer removed 12 vital parts and scattered them throughout the world, protected by people known only as the Guardians. Now that the Knights have returned to power, they will stop at nothing to find the hidden relics and reactivate the astrolabe. In this first installment in the series, Abbott covers a lot of ground as the rapid-fire plot takes our heroes from Texas to Italy and Guam while establishing the backstories of Copernicus; the Guardians; the Knights; and their beautiful but deadly leader, Galina. The author masterfully pulls all the threads together and creates an engaging thriller enhanced by codes, puzzles, exotic locales, and narrow escapes. Characterization takes a backseat to action, but readers won't mind and will look forward to learning more about the people as the series progresses. However, since the book's title names what type of relic everyone is searching for, readers don't enjoy a big reveal when the questers make that discovery late in the story. Give this to Rick Riordan and Ridley Pearson fans or readers who've aged out of "The 39 Clues" (Scholastic).-Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NYα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journal. LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Right before Wade’s uncle Henry, an astronomy professor in Berlin, meets a suspicious and untimely demise, he sends Wade’s dad a coded e-mail. Using an antique star map Uncle Henry gave Wade for his birthday years earlier, Wade and his dad, along with Darrel, Lily, and Becca, unlock the first in long sequence of puzzles, leading them to Berlin, Bologna, Rome, and all around the world. As they dig deeper into the clues, they discover a hidden history of Nicolaus Copernicus, including 12 relics that are protected by guardians who make sure they stay out of the wrong hands. Unfortunately for Wade and his friends, those wrong hands are hot on their tail. Wade and his friends have to use all their smarts to solve the clues in this high-stakes adventure and beat their powerful pursuers to each magical relic. With word games and rebus puzzles to spare, this whirling first entry in a projected six-part series from Abbott (City of the Dead, 2011) has international intrigue, fast-paced action, entertaining characters, and a healthy helping of science history.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Best-selling Abbott is getting the usual—signings, tours, website tie-ins—but the kicker is a sweepstakes for a trip to New York City for a real-life scavenger hunt led by the author. Grades 4-7. --Sarah Hunter