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Nearly a year after its launch, Scholastic’s groundbreaking action adventure series, The 39 Clues, reaches the halfway mark with the fifth installment of the ten book-series, The Black Circle (book#135 for 2009), by Patrick Carman.

The interactive multi-media series has been making its way to eager young readers around the world. Aside from the simultaneous release of the hardcover and audio editions in various parts of the word, Scholastic reports that the series has been licensed for publication in 17 foreign languages, including Japanese, Italian, German, Chinese, French, Greek, and Hebrew.

The adventure series recently made its debut in Scandinavia with the first three books released in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, and followed by the release of the first three books in Japan. Additional international editions are set for release in 2010.

At the heart of the series is the Cahill family, a powerful family that has produced the movers and shakers in world history. When the last remaining Cahill matriarch, Grace, passes away, she leaves 11-year old Dan and his  14-year old sister Amy a strange bequest: the choice between a million dollars for each of them, or the first clue in the quest for the Cahill family legacy, and a reward beyond measure.

Choosing the path of adventure, Dan and Amy go off on the adventure of a lifetime to beat the rest of the Cahills to the source of their family’s power, getting in touch with the lives of other prominent Cahills along the way:  Benjamin Franklin in The Maze of Bones, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in One False Note, Toyotomi Hideyoshi in The Sword Thief, and Howard Carter in Beyond the Grave.

Secret Destination, Thrilling Chase

book5The Black Circle picks up where Beyond the Grave left off, in Cairo Egypt.  Dan and Amy receive a mysterious message that leads them to their next destination, which has been kept under wraps since the release of book 4.

The secret destination is tied to some very powerful personalities, and a famous clan that has been the subject of both history and legend. Here, Amy and Peter follow the path laid out by their mysterious message-sender, uncover some deadly secrets that have baffled the world for decades, and form unexpected alliances with some other Cahills along the way.

The Black Circle appears to be the most action-packed volume among the five books out in the series, as Dan and Amy are not only racing against other Cahills; they are racing with time as well. But Dan and Amy appear to be in their element in this book, always managing to be one step ahead of the pack, making this book one of the most satisfying reads in the whole series.

“As an avid reader, gamer, and total thrill seeker, I can’t imagine a better writing experience than The 39 Clues,” states author Patrick Carman. “I became completely immersed in Dan and Amy’s whirlwind adventure, and I was lucky enough to chronicle them into one of the most interesting places on earth. Writing The Black Circle made me a fan of The 39 Clues for life!”

The Black Circle author Patrick Carman

The Black Circle author Patrick Carman

Patrick Carman ( “Land of Elyon” series) joins the elite roster of authors that have penned books for the series: Rick Riordan ( “Percy Jackson and the Olympians“ series),  who also developed the overall story arc for the series);  Gordon Korman  ( “Island,” “Everest” and “Dive” adventure series) who will return for book 8 of “The 39 Clues“; Peter Lerangis (the highly acclaimed sci-fi/mystery series “Watchers”), who will return for book 7; and Jude Watson (“Star Wars: Last of the Jedi” and “What I Saw and How I Lied”), who will return for book 6. Linda Sue Park and Margaret Peterson Haddix round off the list, for books 9 and 10.

Gaining momentum

With five books in the series, “The 39 Clues“ shows no signs of slowing down, with 4 million books in English in print for books 1-5, with the books topping the bestseller lists of The New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and the Wall Street Journal.

The 39 Clues interactive reading experience also continues to be an unprecedented success, with even more kids from all 50 states and 191 countries joining the hunt for clues online. The 39 Clues online game (http://www.the39clues.com) has drawn more than 580,000 registered users since its launch in September 2008.

Movie rights for The 39 Clues have also been acquired by DreamWorks Studios with Steven Spielberg eyeing to direct. The script is being penned by Jeff Nathanson whose credits include Catch Me If You Can and Rush Hour 2.

***

My copy: hardcover

My rating: 5/5 stars

*article first published in Manila Bulletin