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Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation Book Poster Image
Nonstop adventure, science, and young genius in fun mystery.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The constant delivery of science, math, and history is peppered with moments of personal introspection and growth for Charlie and Dante.

Positive Messages

While not entirely altruistic in their search for Pandora, the agents and Charlie are focused on a few key values: Doing the right thing, working hard, and caring for a world beyond themselves. Charlie's quest for the truth is a reminder that there's a fine line between good and evil in the world.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Throughout their adventure, the adults around Charlie both appreciate her abilities and protect her from her own impulsive nature; they try to do good work for the world while remaining skeptical CIA agents.

Violence

Charlie and her team are in near-constant danger, with shooting, fistfights, and car chases, but it's at an appropriate intensity for the target age level.

Sex

A few scenes in which a sibling comments on her brother’s crush, and one where she teases him by making kissing noises. 

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation is a smart, fast-paced mystery that makes Einstein's theories as engaging as Colorado's snowboarding scene. While most readers likely won't identify with 12-year-old Charlie Thorne's ability to see the world as math and angles, they'll empathize with her independent streak and impetuous nature. There's a ton of math, history, science, and geography here, all wrapped in an adventure that advanced readers will zip through and that hooks reluctant readers to stay engaged to the last page. Expect age-appropriate danger -- including shooting, fistfights, and car chases -- and some teasing about a crush.

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What's the story?

In Stuart Gibbs' CHARLIE THORNE AND THE LAST EQUATION, 12-year-old supergenius (and very wealthy thief) Charlie is forced to help the CIA hunt down one of Einstein's lost -- and potentially world-ending -- secrets, while trying to figure out who the "good guys" really are. The CIA wants Charlie to figure out where Einstein hid his most powerful discovery: an equation that could benefit the world forever or destroy it completely. Charlie is skeptical that the CIA would always use it for good, but she also wants to keep it out of the hands of people she's certain would use it for evil. So she follows clues, dodges bullets, and addresses her odd family situation, all while translating the world through her amazing mathematical brain and showing off some world-class snowboarding skills.

Is it any good?

Engaging characters with adventurous lives hook readers from the beginning of this mystery, and the fast-paced adventure and an engaging plot keep them engaged to the end. In Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation, math is everywhere, mysteries are to be solved, and 12-year-olds can be trusted with the world’s deadliest -- and most lucrative -- secret. It's a fun read, and it's so full of Einstein's theories that kids and adults can't help but come away with a better understanding of physics and history. On a personal level, Charlie's personal life is complicated, and her quest for the truth is a reminder that there's a fine line between good and evil in the world.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation shows the complexity of powerful knowledge. Would you have given Pandora to the CIA, kept it to yourself, or found another recipient? Why? Have you ever had a secret you didn't know whether you should share?

  • What special abilities do you have – and what abilities would you like to have?

  • What other good mysteries have you read?

  • Did any of the danger in the book scare you? Why or why not? How does your ability to handle tense content change as you get older?

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