If your middle reader is looking for high action, intense adventure, and danger at every turn – all while scouring the globe securing essential information, both for the heroes success, as well as to keep it out of the wrong hands – then this series is sure to please.
The 39 Clues – by Rick Riordan & Various Authors
Amy and Dan Cahill set out on a quest to discover the 39 missing clues that will reveal the true power of the Cahill family – but they aren’t the only branch of the mysterious family searching for answers, and not everyone has noble intentions. As Amy and Dan travel the globe each mission becomes more dangerous, it becomes less clear who to trust, and their motives are constantly questioned. Do Amy and Dan want to find the clues or just discover what happened to their parents? What role do they play in the larger story of the Cahill family history, and what obligation do they have to keep the clues out of the wrong hands?
Initially I loved these books, they were fun, exciting and engaging. The appeal for middle readers was three-fold – constant action, a distinct lack of adult supervision, and familiar authors who excel at this escapist type of novel. I was won over by the incredible locales across the globe that the kids visit throughout their quest. Eventually, though, the repetitive nature and implausibility of the perilous situations Dan and Amy constantly find themselves in wore thin. (Seriously, how many times can two kids be trapped in a dark cave without any light being chased, attacked, etc.) However, most middle readers, once they are hooked, will enjoy seeing the series through. And if they want even more 39 Clues there are additional series, Cahills vs. Vespers, Unstoppable, and Doublecross for readers to enjoy.
The Maze of Bones (39 Clues, No. 1) by Rick Riordan – Author Riordan, known for the Percy Jackson series and The Kane Chronicles kicks off the series with Dan and Amy choosing between a million dollars or embarking on the quest for the 39 clues. As they meet the other branches of the family, the search for the clues becomes more sinister. Danger and mystery await as Dan and Amy travel to Philadelphia and then Paris chasing after the first clue.
One False Note (The 39 Clues, Book 2) by Gordon Korman – The competition between the warring factions of the family gets fierce as Amy, Dan, and their au pair chaperon Nellie lead chase through Austria in the second book, this one authored by Korman who is known for the Swindle and Island series.
The Sword Thief (The 39 Clues, Book 3) by Peter Lerangis – Amy and Dan discover more clues that lead them through Japan and Korea where an unlikely alliance could be their undoing. This installation is authored by Lerangis, who is known for the Seven Wonders series and the Spy X books.
Beyond the Grave (The 39 Clues , Book 4) by Jude Watson – Egypt is full of danger and mystery as Dan and Amy face betrayal and find themselves trapped in their hunt for the next clue. Author Watson has written extensively for the Star Wars series.
The Black Circle (The 39 Clues , Book 5) by Patrick Carman – A mysterious telegram from someone known only as “NRR” lead Dan and Amy to Russia where they infiltrate the Lucian base to get the next clue. Carman also authored the Floors stories, a PBP favorite.
In Too Deep (The 39 Clues, Book 6) by Jude Watson – Amy and Dan head to Australia to follow their parents trail on the hunt for the 39 Clues. Being so close to their parents memory is painful for Amy and her clouded vision leads to betrayal and the loss of an ally. Will they all survive?
The Viper’s Nest (The 39 Clues, Book 7) by Peter Lerangis – Danger hits close to home in South Africa, sending Amy and Dan running from the police. That’s the least of their problems as they discover a final, devastating secret about their family branch that could change everything.
The Emperor’s Code (The 39 Clues, Book 8) by Gordon Korman – What happens when you think you are on the right side, but it turns out you might not be? Amy faces her toughest challenge yet when she and Dan are separated in China -does she go after Dan or the clue? How can Dan and Amy live up to who they thought they were, or who they want to be?
Storm Warning (The 39 Clues, Book 9) by Linda Sue Park – As they explore the Bahamas and Jamaica, Dan and Amy realize that they are finally about to confront the mysterious man who’s been tracking their movements throughout the search for the clues. However, this meeting uncovers more secrets, and reveals the truth about the Madrigal branch of the family-one Amy and Dan never could have expected. Park is also the author of the remarkable A Long Walk to Water, which chronicles the stories of two Sudanese children.
Into the Gauntlet (The 39 Clues, Book 10) by Margaret Peterson Haddix – In England it is up to Dan and Amy to finish this, once and for all. They are tired of playing by someone else’s rules and determinedly vow to end the hunt for 39 Clues their way. Do they have enough strength to finally put all the pieces together and come out victorious? Or do they just want to come out alive? Haddix is well known for The Shadow Children Series and her The Missing Collection.
Vespers Rising (The 39 Clues, Book 11) Authors Rick Riordan, Peter Lerangis, Gordon Korman and Jude Watson come together to weaving four different stories, each by one author, about the history of the Cahill family and their enemies, the Vespers. While this book ties some loose ends together, it also leaves plenty of room and raises enough questions to introduce the next series The 39 Clues Cahills vs. Vespers.