When I started reading this series, I had no clue on what to expect. Accidentally, I read the last book first so I was left with many questions but I knew one thing for sure. I was definitely hooked! As I read through the series, I was surprised by the cleverness of all the characters and the intrigue that followed through the books. However, my all-time favorite aspect of your books was the use of history through the thirty-nine clues. It was thrilling to learn about history in this way and relate to my previous knowledge while trying to figure out the clues.
At first, it was difficult for me to pinpoint the moral of the story but as I read more I could see it more clearly. Basically, the plot of the story is two orphaned siblings, Dan and Amy Cahill, live a mundane life with their cruel aunt, but all this is shaken when their grandmother, Grace Cahill, dies. Surprising her relatives, she gives them a choice which is to either take one million dollars or a clue. Either move will drastically change their lives.
To join your ruthless relatives on a perilous hunt or take one million dollars, that is the question. Of course Dan and Amy choose the hunt, and are given the first clue, much to their aunt's dismay. Immediately, the four branches of the family set off leaving Amy and Dan far behind, or so they think. They soon find that they have greatly underestimated Amy and Dan and the siblings soon realize they can trust no one. As they start to reach the end of the race, they realize that the only way they can get to the prize is by uniting together. Banding together they get to the prize and become strong allies as well.
Happily ever after, right? Well...
I would like to say this has been the best book I have ever read but because of some violence and crude humor I can't say it has been. When I said ruthless, I mean like cutthroat ruthless. For the story to still be a good book, I don't think there needed to be so much violence. During the book, Amy often says unkind things to her brother who retaliates with sarcasm and criticism. Consequently, hurting Amy's feelings. Actually, I still enjoy these books but I am definitely not a fan of the violence in them.
Since Amy and Dan are orphans, when they ran away from their Aunt Beatrice they took their Au Pair with them so they would not be questioned. Their Au Pair, Nellie Gomez, is a funny, quirky character who likes cooking and her iPod. Reading some reviews of the thirty-nine clues, I realized that many readers disliked Nellie's lack of control over the siblings and less than perfect role model status. Understandingly, I get that she is not the best but she is always there for Dan and Amy and tries to be a good role model too. I don't think she's a bad character, but she does need guidance on how to be a better Au Pair.
To offset the less than perfect stuff, I must say I was very impressed by their use of history which I learned a lot from. Especially, because according to CNN, only twenty percent of forth graders were proficient in American history while they probably did even worse in worldwide history. I think it's great that they put that in there. I also hope the history in the books is passed on to the movie that Dreamworks is planning to make. Interesting students in history is hard, but these books make history seem very surprising and fun.
They go to lots of adventurous places such as the Catacombs in France and the Opal Mines in Australia all the while teaching valuable “history lessons.” In this particular book, the first one, Amy and Dan were learning about Benjamin Franklin because the first clue was Ben's pen name Richard Saunders. Later, I looked up some of the places they went including the underground town of Coober Pedy. It was cool to look at a town that is underground.
In my opinion, I think these books aren't the best books for kids my age and younger but if you are like me and love excitement and adventure then I think you'll definitely love these books. Although I also think these books are better for kids eight and up because there is some stuff which might be scary to a little kid. A person eight and under should probably read this book with their parents so they can sort out what the characters did right and what they did wrong.