Marking the half way point! The Black Circle is Book 5 of 10 in the exciting 39 Clues adventure series. Patrick Carman takes us on a turbulent journey through Russia with orphans Dan and Amy cleverly clue hunting, this time without the protection of a legal adult, save cryptic notes, bizarre amber colored objects and a Gold Visa Card (wu-hoo!) planted in obscure locations by the mysterious NRR. Who? Ah, that is what Dan and Amy have to find out, along with the next clue in the dangerous contest launched by the passing of their beloved Grandmother Grace in her final will.
But… but what do you mean no adult? Whuddabout Nellie Gomez, their faithful au pair? Oh, don’t worry she’s fine (well, except for blowing a brain gasket after Dan and Amy totally ditched her and snapper snacking Saladin in Cairo). But they didn’t have much choice. After slipping out of the hotel early “for donuts” they received clues, disguises and HELLO plane tix with a one hour departure time. Like, gotta go!
What a hunt! Carman leads us not only on an exhilarating exploration of real time and historical Russia, but manages to weave some intriguing “unsolved mysteries” into this tale. After landing in Volgograd, Dan takes Amy on a Mr. Toad style ride in a Russian military motorbike (rather than trust a cabbie). Next thing they know, they are racing the athletic Hamilton “Hammer” Holt to the top of The Motherland Calls statue, where they discover the only way to find the next clue given the time restriction is to split up, while working closely together.
Like divide and conquer? Exactly. Dan and Amy convince Hammer to go to Omsk, Siberia to find a statue of Dostoevsky (Dude, what IS he looking at?) while they go in search of a Mad Mystic Monk, Grigori Rasputin who had been killed by Prince Felix in Yusupov Palace (Follow the orange snake). Dan is beside himself… cool! A murder scene!
KGB trained and cut-throat Cahill Irina Spasky is hot on their heels almost every step of the way, but could it be she is more concerned with well kept Russian secrets than the 39 Clues? And is the mysterious NRR really helping the young Cahills, or using them to sabotage the Lucians?
Meanwhile, back to the Holts in sunny Siberia (not), Hammer gets to drive a Kamaz (think Russian steroid Hummer) on the horrific Road of Bones in search of, humm, they don’t quite know, but following a message etched into a honey colored skipping stone. Russian Hummer, buried bones… Dan… jealous much? Especially since he and Amy have “achieved total dweebdom” by procuring “Tiny Tim” as their adventure mobile, and HARSH, she refused to even let him drive. Hammer is SO having all the fun.
Sneaking into the State Kremlin Palace, Dan unravels the last cryptic code from NRR, and finally they meet their mystery guide… Sorry, lips are sealed. It’s just too awesome to give away. But after a few revealing moments, some about their deceased parents, Dan and Amy are suddenly high in the sky in a remote control chopper, then climbing down into the secret bowels of the Church of Blood to at last obtain the next clue in the 39 Clues.
Now, check this… when Ian Kabra had to give a direct order to Irina to have Dan and Amy killed (oy vey), he couldn’t do it… a weakness he observed in himself in South Korea. Sup with THAT? And what skeletons are in Irina’s painful past? And why was the unidentified Man in Black following the orphans? Creepy…
This one was a little more scary to me. I know, I know, almost getting blown up, drown, caved in, etc across four continents in the previous books should have been scary enough. But something about the kids being on their own, and in OMG the Church of Blood, with tombs of murdered people, being cornered by the conflicted (and totally psycho) KGB agent Irina, got to me. And the hint that there may be some issue with Nellie? 😦 Those poor kids! But no worries, Dan and Amy are extremely resourceful and determined (for Pete’s sake, they are Cahills!) so in-spite of the obstacles, they manage to find the 5th clue, create a true partnership (albeit temporary), and… survive for another hunt.
And you know The 39 Clues series is not only a virtual tour through history, it’s multimedia! So, I collected my 6 brand new cards from the inside cover, hopped online to The 39 Clues website and had some more fun solving puzzles (I still got it) and played games in Arena 39. And what messages await you in the symbols starting on page 39 and on the inside cover?
Purchase The 39 Clues Book 5: The Black Circle