by Tony Abbott
Release Date: January 7th, 2014
2014 Katherine Tegen Books
Ebook Edition; 432 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Juvenile / Adventure / Series
Source: Review copy from publisher
4.5 / 5 Stars
It all began when four friends-Wade, Lily, Darrel, and Becca-received a strange, coded email from Wade's uncle Henry shortly before the old man's sudden death. They set off for Germany to attend the funeral with Wade's father, Roald, and discover that Uncle Henry left them yet another baffling message that they suspect is the key to figuring out how and why he died.
The message leads to a clue, and the more clues they discover, the farther they travel down a treacherous path toward an ancient, guarded secret. Soon they are in a breathless race across the globe, running for their lives as a dangerous shadow organization chases them around every corner. Their only hope of saving themselves-and the world that they know-is to find twelve magical relics from a hidden past that will unlock the Copernicus Legacy.
The Forbidden Stone is the first book in what is going to be an extensive journey over the next four years, covering six novels and six novellas for each of the novels. I went and took a look at the blog site for this series and readers have an opportunity to enter for a chance to win a trip to New York to participate in your own relic hunt, based on the events in the first book. There are a few other extras on the site including teaching ideas if you're a teacher and wish to introduce this to your students in the classroom, a game, and a character guide. I spent quite a bit of time looking up information on this site.
I am more familiar with Tony Abbott's work in his series, The Secrets of Droon, which is more at the second and third grade levels, so it was nice to read something that was more at the Intermediate level from him. And I have to say that The Forbidden Stone grabbed my attention right away, to the point where I had to force myself to put it down and go do bed. The short chapters easily sucked a reader right into the action, and I was always "One chapter more" until I realized I had read another fifty pages and really needed to put it down. Mr. Abbott also has a way of writing that captures your attention and imagination and you just want to keep on reading to find out what happens next. The plot had a lot of twists and turns, even if slightly predictable to an older reader, and you never really had a chance to catch your breath until the end. My son is currently reading it at the moment and he is finding it just as action-packed as I did, to the point where he wants to read through dinner. I'll be curious to know his take with regards to the predictability (he's thirteen) when he's finished.
I thought the characters were delightful and fun for such a novel. Darrell made me laugh as he was always looking for spies and such around him and his constant obsession was fun to watch. I do have to hand it to him though, as he was right more than once in this novel as some of the other characters were somewhat naive about being chased and the use of electronics out there. Darrell was hilarious in Berlin as he had this idea that the whole spy network originated in Germany because of the Berlin Wall - such fun. The banter between them all was interesting and I enjoyed it immensely. Lily should have shut off that tablet days earlier though, and I wondered how long it would take before someone took it away from her. And where did she find that never ending battery as my own tablet would never have lasted that long. Amazing!!
My only concern would be the level of knowledge a reader should already have about Copernicus and Ptolemy, and while the author does a credible job of explaining these historical figures to readers, it is still done in riddles and clues, and I know my own son was confused over certain concepts that I needed to explain to him. I had already read a couple of biographies on Copernicus and Ptolemy, so I came into these novels with a rather high level of knowledge so my take on this is quite skewed. However, what it did do was open up some interesting discussions over the dinner table that were quite enjoyable so if reading continues to lead to that, I am all for it. My son had never heard of Copernicus until this novel, and he is finding the research quite fascinating. But would all readers be the same? Not sure.
The Forbidden Stone was an enjoyable start to a new series by an author I have long admired for his children's series. It was action-packed, full of suspense, had the secrets and riddles and clues that I love, was fun, and the characters were interesting. There is a lot of room to grow and develop and I am really curious as to what happens next, especially as the author left off this book with quite an ending. I am definitely looking forward to the release of book 2, The Serpent's Curse, coming in October 2014.