Seven Wonders Book 2: Lost in Babylon

Common Sense Media says

Time-travel adventure excites but lacks solid characters.

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids will be introduced to the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World in the Seven Wonders series. Here readers visit the Hanging Gardens of Babylon as they were in antiquity and the great pyramids in Egypt as they are today. There's also a bit about the daily life and clothing of ancient Babylon. The myth of Atlantis and its sinking is discussed, in less detail than in the first book, as is genetic mutation (an imaginary one, in this case). The main characters solve puzzles to follow clues, breaking codes and using logic to find the most likely answers. Math comes in handy to figure out how much more slowly time passes in the time-warped Babylon they visit.

Positive messages

Teamwork, bravery, and believing in yourself are overlying messages in the first Seven Wonders book and in Lost in Babylon, as well. A friend's betrayal is a huge blow. Adults and their motivations are still not to be trusted, especially when there are two very different versions of the "truth" about the fall of Atlantis.

Positive role models

Jack continues to be the most conscientious of the group. He makes a decision to lose what he needs to stay alive to save others. Cass loses confidence in his abilities and is reminded by his friends how important he is to the team. Aly, the smartest of the group and the only girl, shows a lot of bravery at a key moment. Marco uses his brawn and amazing physical abilities first to help his friends but then to show off in front of others who feed his already inflated ego.

Violence

Four 13-year-olds are on adventures alone for most of the book, fighting mythological creatures, such as the monstrous mushushu and the vizzeet that sprays prey with burning spit, and fighting humans carrying dart guns, real guns, throwing knives, and spears. They are kidnapped, held prisoner, burned, nearly gassed, knocked unconscious, cut badly (Marco on the leg and between his toes), and swarmed by rats. They arrive in Babylon in time to see the end of a stoning where a man is thrown into a moat with crocodiles (not described in detail). A creature is stabbed senselessly and killed while it's tranquilized; an enemy killed by a spear is then picked apart by birds; and Marco fights a large, caged cat for sport. There's talk of how Jack lost his mom when she went on an expedition in Antarctica and how all the young teens who were taken from their families miss home; a visit to Marco's family's house shows how the whole family suffers because they think Marco is missing or dead. A friend in the time-warped ancient Babylon is thought lost forever when all starts to collapse. The teen characters will collapse and could die without treatments for their rare genetic disorder that also makes them gifted.

Sex

Some jealousy and crushes, but nothing overt.

Language

"Ass" once, and a mention that kids heard "a new vocabulary of very bad words."

Consumerism

Both Wrigley's spearmint gum and Ben & Jerry's ice cream become part of the action, plus quick mentions of Yale, Disney, Jeep, and iPod.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Quick mention that some guards smoke.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Peter LerangisLost in Babylon is the second book in the Seven Wonders series, which sets four 13-year-olds on adventures to find seven sources of power, each hidden in one of the Ancient Wonders of the World. In this series installment, they visit the Hanging Gardens of Babylon as they were in antiquity (through a clever time warp) and the great pyramids in Egypt as they are today. Violence continues to be about average for the fantasy-adventure genre. The teens get some bloody injuries and burns from fantasy creatures, are kidnapped, and fight against enemies with spears, dart guns and modern guns, and throwing knives. It gets a little gruesome when a man is speared and picked apart by birds and another is stoned and thrown to the crocodiles (neither event is described in detail). The same talented kids are brave and resourceful and work well together to survive but also encounter a major betrayal. All of them need special treatments to stay alive, thanks to the genetic defect that marks them as both gifted and as descendants of Atlantis.

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Kids say

What's the story?

Jack, Aly, Cass, and Marco, gifted descendants of the original inhabitants of Atlantis and carriers of a rare genetic defect, are running out of time to save themselves. The treatments from the scientists at the secretive Karai Institute help keep them alive, but they must keep finding special power sources called the Loculi hidden at the seven Ancient Wonders of the World for the ultimate cure. After a narrow escape from a reincarnated Colossus of Rhodes in Book 1, they're headed for the fertile crescent -- Iraq -- the original site of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Thanks to a strange underwater time warp, the foursome can visit more than the ruins. They don tunics and sandals and -- splash! -- they're at the court of the Babylonian king. Too bad he's not offering guided tours of the Hanging Gardens anymore; no one's allowed in. After much sneaking around and some serious bargaining to get in the king's good graces -- sure, Marco can kill that huge, scary monster for you! -- they think they're getting closer to their goal. But then come the booby traps, and the crazy spitting birds that burn, and Kranag, the blind and incredibly lethal shapeshifter. Once again, the four face a nearly impossible task, and time on both sides of the warp is running out.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Geez, that story description sounds exciting. Monsters! Time travel! Crazy-cool kid powers! Just like Book 1, LOST IN BABYLON has all the bait that fantasy-adventure fans need to dive right in. It will entertain, sure -- and lure you to the next book with a great cliffhanger -- but it won't stick with you like a Rick Riordan mythology-tinged adventure.

Peter Lerangis' characters still need more to them. Readers may find themselves rooting more for Daria, a cool new Babylonian girl, than for the foursome at the center of the story -- not good. And again, adults who want something from the teens are barely described, and this is what's supposed to make all of them untrustworthy. Hmm... Without solid characters to build your story on, this tower will fall.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about ancient Babylon. What did you learn from Lost in Babylon? What else can you find out? Where do we get our information about ancient civilizations? Who studies them?

  • What do you like most about the Seven Wonders series? Is it the history? The adventure? The crazy mythological creatures? What other books that you read does this series remind you of?

  • What do you think of Marco and his plans? Do you agree with Jack about him? Does Cass? Would you do what Cass asks of Jack?

Book details

Author:Peter Lerangis
Illustrator:Torstein Norstrand
Genre:Fantasy
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Harper
Publication date:October 29, 2013
Number of pages:384
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Available on:Nook, Hardback, Kindle

This review of Seven Wonders Book 2: Lost in Babylon was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 9 years old May 8, 2014
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13
QUALITY
 

best book ever better than jaculine Wilson

you should read it its great fun
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

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