The Lost Tribes, Book 1

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Lost Tribes, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Teens must win video game to save parents in clever sci-fi.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Full of puzzles, secret codes, and science facts. Each chapter is started with a literary quote from around the world. The kids visit or hear about London, Peru, Egypt, Easter Island, other exotic locales.

Positive Messages

Perseverance helps you triumph in the end. Friends who stick together usually achieve their goals. Parents can have personality traits that aren't obvious to their kids.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ben, Carlos, Serise, April, and Grace are a formidable, diverse team of computer users and problem solvers who band together to find their missing parents after they're invited to play a mysterious computer game. Ben likes to complain about homework and his mom's cooking, but he's actually brave and resourceful. Carlos is more serious, while the girls are confident in their skills and enjoy beating the competition. In terms of representation, main character Ben and his little sister, April, are African American. Carlos is Latino. Grace's and Serise's ethnicity is not specified. 

Violence

There are violent scenes, but they happen within a video game and are not at all disturbing. Kids "die" in the game but usually just need a reset.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Lost Tribes is a middle-grade science fiction series start in which five diverse young teens play a video game that may lead them to their missing parents. The game involves finding ancient tribal artifacts, and the fate of the universe may depend on their success or failure. Main character Ben and his little sister, April, are African American. Carlos is Latino. Grace's and Serise's ethnicity is not specified. Author C. Taylor-Butler provides lots of action and puzzles to be solved. Violent scenes are infrequent and not at all disturbing. There's no swearing, sexual content, or substance use. 

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What's the story?

As THE LOST TRIBES opens, Ben is more focused on improving his newfound basketball skills than on keeping up with school. When his prickly Uncle Henry challenges him to complete a new computer game, Ben recruits his friend Carlos, his sister April, and two other girls to help solve the puzzles and clues. When their parents suddenly go missing, the kids find the game to be more real than they first expected. With time running out, will they be able to win the game, rescue their parents, and prevent a galaxy-size disaster?

Is it any good?

Computer games can present a whole world of facts and puzzles, and this fast-moving sci-fi adventure is packed with tantalizing riddles and codes. Author C. Taylor-Butler creates an ethnically and culturally diverse cast led by basketball-loving Ben, who usually tries to do the right thing, even when his life is in danger inside a computer game. Most chapters end with a twist or a surprising revelation. There are plenty of cool facts about ancient cultures, history, and science. Violence is handled with a light touch. The narrative ends in a cliffhanger, and readers will want to grab Book 2, The Lost Tribes: Safe Harbor, ASAP. Book 3, Lost Tribes: Trials, comes out October 20, 2020. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Lost Tribes uses history, science, and puzzles to advance the plot. How have codes and ciphers been used throughout history to hide information?

  • Ben and April learn some surprising things about their parents. Why do you think adults would hide information from their children?

  • What other books have you read where the hero must use wits and skill at gaming to save people in real life? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction and characters of color

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