Squee for Book Three!

I have always thought The 39 Clues was a brilliant marketing coup on the part of Scholastic, but as I closed the cover on my copy of the third installment in the series (I was reading it for an article for Manila Bulletin, which comes out on Saturday), The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis (Book #40 for 2009), I think the it would be safe to say that it has gotten into its groove. 

I’m not sure which factors in more, if it’s Lerangis’ writing that makes the difference (he did ghost-write for my favorite mystery series, The Three Investigators) or if the mechanisms set in place by the first two books were simply put in motion, but I honestly loved The Sword Thief more than I did the first two books (I rated them both 4/5 stars, and not so much for the story but for the reading experience).

For the first two books, as action-packed as they were, I felt a certain detachment towards the text, like I was an impartial witness to the action unfolding throughout the pages. Book 3 fits in with the rest of the series (with no less than Nick and Norah author David Levithan directing the editorial team), with the trademark 39 Clues twisty chase (suspension of disbelief is a given, think National Treasure or Da Vinci Code) but to my surprise, The Sword Thief captured what I felt was lacking in the series: an added depth to the characters, and interesting dynamics between the Cahill relatives, which comes in at an opportune moment, because the cat-and-mouse, left-and-right sabotage can get pretty old after a while.

I guess Lerangis’ writing does deserve to be singled out, as he manages to add more introspection to the characters and keep up with the line of action — 20 pages under the last book, at that — and I feel that this book captured the spirit of 39 Clues most succintly.

I think it can only get better from here on, and I can’t wait for Book 4, Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson, which is out in June. Should be good, set in classic treasure hunt wonderland: Egypt!

That reminds me, I should input the cards onto my account soon and get a move on with the clues in the online game… Arrgh, the problem is the game site is sooo addictive and I can’t limit myself to an hour playing…. And I also need to get an expansion card pack soon before the new set (for the next books) is released. Ohhh, to be a kid again!

P.S. If there are any other Cahills out there, I’m a Lucian.

My copy: hardcover (the series is in hardcover)

My rating: 5/5 stars

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