The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones is the first book in a 10 book series about a large-scale scavenger hunt that takes family members all over the world in search for clues to becoming the most powerful person on Earth. Two teenage siblings, Dan and Amy, find themselves in an exciting but dangerous adventure as they search for and follow the clues. Other family members such as the snotty Kabras and “the bull in a china shop” Holt family, force Dan and Amy to stay on their toes and remember not to trust anyone, especially family. Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series, is the writer of this series and the overall story arc for the series, which he then hands off to other writers for the other books in the series.
The author of this book and creator of the main plot of this story, Rick Riordan, has an impressive history as an educator. Before quitting to become a full-time author, Rick taught high school and then middle school for many years. He mainly taught English and History and he particularly loved teaching Greek mythology. The idea to write the Percy Jackson series, stories about a long lost son of Zeus, came from the fact that he had run out of stories to tell his son, who had developed a deep interest in Greek Mythology, and had to then create stories of his own. Also, in writing the series, Riordan created the story hoping to capture the interest and motivate his own son, Haley, who had been diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. From videos I found on the Scholastic website, Riordan has a clear desire to engage young students to read and specifically writes his book with their needs in mind.
With this particular series, Riordan states that Scholastic actually approached him with the idea for this story and he agreed to develop the story and write a couple of the book in the series. Riordan states in an interview that because he had created the story arc he has a general idea of what would happen in the sequential books but that many of the details are left up to the authors of the each book. He also commented that editors at Scholastic, not himself, would be responsible for keeping the books cohesive. I have read a book where each chapter was written by a different author, and I was not pleased with the outcome. The story felt weird, and so I wonder if the multiple authors in this series did a better job of maintain a more singular voice.
I probably will not continue reading the series as taking on a 10 book series does not interest me and annoys me, quite frankly. Like I have said in a previous review, so many young adult books that I have been reading lately end in a cliffhanger that I am continually left unsatisfied by the payoff of my effort. Aside from this annoyance, I liked the storyline and would definitely recommend the books to parents of young students who are looking to get their children engaged in reading.
One aspect about the book that I appreciated was that two main characters did not act or sound above their age. They acknowledged that they were young and needed the help of an adult to get around. Dan and Amy would argue and insult each other as siblings naturally would at their age. I was a little disturbed by the fact that the family members of these two are so ruthless that they would be willing to hurt or kill their own family. Because of this fact, I would have to preface the stories carefully with my kids so that they understand that this is just a story and most families don’t act this way.
Overall, I like this story and am impressed with the dedication that Rick Riordan has towards getting young kids engaged in reading. I would recommend the story to parents of 5th graders, maybe 4th graders depending on their maturity, and older. And, I would recommend the audiobook version of this series. The narrator did an excellent job with the various accents, of which there were many. I checked the audiobook out from the local library so depending on their learning style a student could choose to read the book, listen to it or even do both simultaneously.