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Updated: July 6, 2010 14:46 IST

Let the clues lead you

MADHUMITHA SRINIVASAN
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The 39 Clues is a series of 10 books that narrates the adventures of siblings Amy and Dan…

Two youngsters on a treasure hunt to save the world from falling into evil hands, while fighting off terracotta warriors, ferocious crocodiles and racing up Mt. Everest, in short is what The 39 Clues by multiple authors is all about.

Published by Scholastic, The 39 Clues is a series of 10 books that narrates the adventures of orphaned siblings Amy and Dan Cahill as they attempt to solve clues that are spread across the world, and try to stay ahead of members from different branches of the Cahill family who are also a part of the race.

The five branches of the Cahill family originate from the five children of the first Cahill — Gideon Cahill and his wife Olivia, with each branch known for a special power like creative genius (Janus), physical strength (Tomas), shrewdness (Lucians) and innovation (Ekaterinas), except the Madrigals who are known for their evil ways and violence, to which branch our protagonists belong.

But Amy and Dan are anything but that. They are typical youngsters of 14 and 11 years of age, but after being orphaned after the death of their grandmother and parents, they take part in the race unwittingly.

The clues of the hunt will lead the participants to the ingredients of a powerful chemical compound that will give the person the power of all the branches put together making them the most powerful person in the world.

In book eight — The Emperor's Code, by Gordon Korman, we find the siblings in China trying to decode the clue left behind by Puyi, the last emperor of China. The inclusion of historical figures and places of importance like the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China, the Terracotta Warrior museum and the Shaolin Temple gives one a fair idea about them with interesting descriptions and historical references, enough to kindle our interest in the country's rich culture and history.

The race up the Everest and Dan's rendezvous with the wushu masters are the most interesting bits in the book.

The story is fast paced and those who have not read the previous books, might find it a little hard to keep up with the numerous characters, their relationships and to what they are saying, but only in the beginning. The author has made it a point to fill in new readers with the necessary information that makes it okay for you to pick this book up randomly and not necessarily in order.

Each book comes with a set of cards that will lead the reader to the clues which can be solved online by playing the game: www.the39clues.com.

An excerpt:

To Dan, The Last Emperor was as boring as the ten-hour flight to Beijing.

“You should pay attention,” Amy advised. “This will be good preparation for our trip to China.”

“Mmm,” he murmurmed, eyelids heavy. The only good that could come from being cheated out of Terminator would be if this lousy film put him to sleep.

He had just dozed off when Amy suddenly dug her fingernails into his arm. “Dan!”

“What's the big idea?” His bleary eyes focused on his sister, who was pointing at the screen. “Come on, Amy. I went to sleep to get away from The Last Emperor!”

“Look!” Amy insisted. “On that wall!”

Dan sqinted. The scene showed the three-year-old Puyi, emperor of China, playing in the Forbidden City, the vast imperial complex. There were hundreds of ornately decorated palaces, temples and statues. And there painted on the side of a small building —

“The Janus crest!” he exclaimed in amazement.

Keywords: The 39 Clues

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