Thursday, May 14, 2009

The 39 Clues, first three books

Sorry for the lateness of this post. I just realized that I never scheduled it for the usual 6am. Oops. :) Anyway, here it is.

Series Plot Summary: Following the death of their grandmother, Amy and Dan discover that they’re members of the most powerful family in the world: the Cahills. The family is huge, with ancestors such as Benjamin Franklin and Mozart. And, there’s a family secret, which the grandmother sets in motion in her will. Each living member of the family may either take one million dollars as inheritance, or they can search for the 39 clues that lead to something more powerful than anyone can imagine. Amy and Dan choose the clues, and are thrown into an adventure that takes them all over the world.

The premise behind this series is fantastic. I wish I’d thought of it, actually. It’s a fabulous adventure story that I think any kid would love.

Scholastic did something a bit unconventional with this release. Instead of all the books coming from one author, they’re coming from many authors. Which, I think, has both good and bad aspects.

Good: This allows Scholastic to release the books quicker – every few months instead of one a year. It makes the fans happy because they don’t have to wait to find out what’s going to happen next. Plus, that one author won’t burn out on the story.

Bad: Different authors have different visions of the story and characters. This has an effect on the flavor and style of each book, which can be confusing.

For example, I’ve read the first three books so far (the fourth is coming out this summer, which I intend to read). And, with each book, I’ve noticed something consistent: the characters are not the same people. Sure, they have the same habits, faults, and mostly the same quirks, plus the same basic relationship with each other. But they’re not exactly the same people. Their dialog, mannerisms, reactions, and thought processes are different.

I’ve had to readjust to all of the characters with each book, especially this last one. Dan was so different from the previous books that I thought one of the other characters (Jonah) had appeared by mistake.

Still, these books are quite enjoyable for those who like puzzles and adventure. If you read them, just keep in mind that you’ll have to relearn who the characters are with each book.


Unknown said...

I don't like that the authors are all different. I think Scholastic wanted to kick the series off with Rick Riordan's name, and then figured they'd make money with the series that way.


PJ Hoover said...

I read the first one. Not sure if I'll read the next, but my son is on Book 3 and loving it!

Eric said...

I can't see how having different authors for the same story would be a good thing. I'm a strong believer in the idea that every author has a voice. And as you said, everyone has a different vision of what is going on in a book when they read it. It's similar to what happens when a new director takes over filming of a movie series already in progress. Things take a turn, and not always for the better. While it's possible things could be done right, I think the various authors would have to collaborate before plunging into their particular edition, in order to keep the characters and writing style the same.

Unknown said...

I've read the first book, but none of the following ones. It'll be interesting to see the characters develop through different eyes, but I suspect I'll feel the same way--that they aren't the same.

Jacqui said...

I had a great time with the first two and liked the third, though not as much. I think the different authors thing could work IF the authors were more able to express their different styles, as in that book Click which was written by 14 (?) different people in wildly different voices.

But with a series like this, I kind of want to get what I expect.

Or maybe it's just that I LOVE Rick Riordan.

Keri Mikulski said...

Sounds interesting...

PurpleClover said...

Hmm. The premise sounds awesome! I hate that they went with different authors though. The books always draw my attention at the bookstore but I don't read MG or YA. So I never took one, but thought that maybe when my daughter is older it could be "her" series. You know?

Danyelle L. said...

I've been looking at reading these. Many different authors would be a concern. Does the voice change much, or just the characters?

C.R. Evers said...

hmmm . . . I've never heard of these before. I may have to check them out.

Tabitha said...

Beth - I like the premise, but I'm with you. I'm not so keen on the multiple authors thing. At least, not since it's clear they didn't collaborate.

PJ - I think kids will like this series far more than adults, even adults who like to read kids books (like me). The premise is probably enough to grab most kids, but adults (especially writers) see a larger picture. Kinda makes it hard to just enjoy. :)

Eric - yeah, I'm with ya. Every author has a distinct voice, and without some kind of collaboration, it's all going to sound different. And it does. I'm also with you that they should have collaborated, but it's clear they didn't. Too bad, really, because this could have been an amazing series. But, right now, it just looks like a way to make money.

CC - I was looking forward to that too (seeing characters develop via different authors), which is why I read it. And why I'll keep reading it, because I'm curious. I am disappointed in the obvious differences with the characters, though. :(

Jacqui - I haven't read Click, but I get what you're saying. And I agree. With a series like this, there isn't really room for authors to express much. They were presented with a kind of formula, and the end result isn't stellar. Though I'm still enjoying them, and I'll keep reading them.

Keri - if you want to examine multiple authors, this is a great way to do it. Or, if you want a good action/adventure series, this is definitely a good one. :)

PurpleClover - your daughter will probably love this series. I've already made a mental note to introduce this series to my boys when they're old enough. :)

Danyelle - the voice changes completely with each book. It's unsettling to be thinking "okay, what are the characters like in this book?" each time I read a new one. I'd rather already know my main characters when I pick up the next in a series, but it's not so with this one. Still, the premise is interesting, and I'm still reading. :)

Christy - they're fun books. If you read them with that kind of expectations, you'll enjoy them. :)