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The Final Battle Begins...
on April 7, 2011
To all Cahills:
Warning! This review is for your eyes only. If you fear Vespers are tracking you, immediately shut off your laptop, mobile, or other wireless device. Once you've gone a safe distance be sure to delete your browsing history. The Vespers are everywhere, and they're now beginning to make their final moves. And I don't think I need to warn you just what is at stake if the Vesper family gets their hands on all 39 Clues and Gideon Cahill's mysterious ring. The world is in your hands, Cahill agent.
Rick Riordan, Peter Lerangis, Gordon Korman, and Jude Watson team up to bring the latest installment in THE 39 CLUES saga with book 11: VESPERS RISING. Meant to be a transition between the first 10 books and the upcoming series, CAHILLS VS. VESPERS, this volume offers four stories by the authors. There are no chapters exactly, but instead long "short stories" about four different Cahill family members. Newcomers to the series should really go back to book one, THE MAZE OF BONES, instead of trying to tackle the subtle references and mysteries that would not make much sense otherwise.
Riordan starts things off with the story of the night Gideon Cahill died. Riordan takes us back to 1507 and the Madrigal family base off the coast of Ireland, and we finally get our first glimpse of the evil Damien Vesper -- who wants the clues badly. Vesper can see just how powerful he will become if he assembles them all, and he wants it. The story works well, and Riordan is at his usual top form giving us adventure and mystery along with revealing a few interesting key points in the Cahill story.
The second part picks up with Madeleine Cahill, grown up and attempting to infiltrate the court of King Henry VIII. Lerangis writes this story, and does a fairly decent job showing us two of the Cahill siblings and their journeys. This story, set in 1526 is exciting enough, with jousting and dungeon escapes, and a few twists. It's interesting to read these sorts of backstory with ten books already in print and providing a lot of information on how the different branches of the Cahill family interact. Keeping everything together while still bringing in the threat of the Vespers must have been quite a bit of work, but Lerangis manages to keep things flowing nicely.
Gordon Korman, who wrote books two and eight, ONE FALSE NOTE and THE EMPEROR'S CODE, really surprised me here. Book two was one of the weakest of the series, but his short story about Grace Cahill and her adventures in 1942 during the World War was absolutely amazing. Grace is thirteen and wondering if her mysterious father James will ever come home from his trips abroad. And suddenly, before she even realizes it, Grace is thrust into an insane adventure tracking clues and coming up against powerful Vesper enemies. This part was so fun to read with great side characters and puzzles that it made me want an entire book just about Grace.
The final story brings us back to the present with Amy and Dan. I was excited to see Watson taking part in VESPERS RISING. Her two books from the series, BEYOND THE GRAVE and IN TOO DEEP, were two of my favorites. She leads Amy and Dan on a crazy adventure through school, Boston, and then the Swiss Alps. It was interesting to see how Amy and Dan are returning to "normal" life after their globe-trotting, and seeing them interact with Fiske Cahill was great. My only complaint here is the virtual absence of Nellie Gomez, but the typical 39 CLUES action still made me excited for the upcoming first book in the new series.
Six cards in THE 39 CLUES game are included in the front cover, and there is also a secret message to be decoded as usual. The light smattering of illustrations of key events and clues help make this volume just as great as any previous installment.
Scholastic has done something really brilliant: bringing together so many different authors on a project with good characters, plotting, and well-written action scenes. And now with the new enemy of the Vespers, things are about to get much more dangerous for the Cahills.
Protect your clues, and watch your back. And read this newest report on the Cahill family. The Vespers are rising.
Best of luck,
--A Fellow Clue-Hunter