Monday, October 20, 2014

Seven Wonders: The Colossus Rises

Seven Wonders: The Colossus Rises
Peter Lerangis
HarperCollins, 2013  348 pgs
Grades 5-8

Thirteen-year-old Jack has a strange attack at school, which lands him in the hospital.  The staff at the hospital seems strange and suspicious and Jack wishes that his traveling Dad were nearer to home.  Next, Jack finds himself being held prisoner on an uncharted island with three other kids of the same age.  Their captor, Professor Bhegad, explains that they are rare descendants of an ancient prince and have special powers--as well as a curse.  The curse is the medical condition that almost killed Jack.  It is life threatening and can only be treated under Professors Bhegad's care.  Their powers are linked to the legendary city of Atlantis and the ancient wonders of the world, only one of which (the Egyptian pyramids) still exist.  At each ancient wonder lies a Loculi, an extremely powerful and magical object.  All seven Loculi must be retrieved in order to stop the destruction of the world as we know it.  After a failed attempt to escape, the four teens get on board with the professor's plan.  They travel to Greece to locate the first Loculi found near the location of the long-gone Colossus of Rhodes, a giant statue constructed by the ancient Greeks of their sun God, Helios. All kinds of obstacles slow the teenagers down on their quest, such as legendary beasts wrecking havoc, secret mazes, tricky ciphers, and evil enemies also after the Loculi.  Our heroes eventually prevail and obtain their sought after prize, only to have a last-minute plot twist foil their plans and lead us straight to the next installment of the series, Lost in Babylon.

The Seven Wonders series has become enormously popular at my library, which has prompted me to read it.  The series is clearly cashing in on the success of the Percy Jackson books, but offers a decent alternative to those kids who have finished the Riordan books and want more of the same.  Jack is not a particularly likable or well developed character, nor are his friends, but character development is not the main motivation of the book.  The Colossus Rises is extremely plot driven and the action never stops.  I think the one character, Marco, is taken for dead at least three times.  The back-story concerning the ancient wonders and the Loculi will appeal to smart kids who enjoy details, but I found it all a bit confusing.  I found my mind starting to wander during different bits, especially when the professor explains some piece of ancient lore.  Kids (or over-read librarians) who can't quite keep the details of the plot straight will still be able to enjoy the book with its non-stop dashing about and clever dialog.  Veteran author, Lerangis has written installments in the 39 Clues series and is a master at writing adventurous fiction for young people.  The series will appeal to boys more than girls, although Lerangis threw in a female character to make the book more inclusive.  With three titles in the series already out and a four slated for a March, 2015 release, kids will have plenty to keep them busy with this series.

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