The Medusa Plot by Gordon Korman

Posted July 20, 2014 in Book Review / 0 Comments

The Medusa Plot by Gordon KormanThe Medusa Plot by Gordon Korman
Series: The 39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers #1
Also in this series: A King's Ransom, The Dead of Night, Shatterproof, Trust No One, Day of Doom
Published by Scholastic Press on August 30th 2011
Genres: Adventure, Middle Grade, Mystery
Pages: 224
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gift
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three-stars

Are you ready to save the world? The bestselling series returns with an adventure spanning 6 explosive books, 2 secret-filled card packs, and a website that places readers right in the action.

Thirteen-year-old Dan Cahill and his older sister, Amy, thought they belonged to the world's most powerful family. They thought the hunt for 39 Clues leading to the source of that power was over. They even thought they'd won. But Amy and Dan were wrong.

One by one, distress calls start coming in from around the globe. Cahills are being kidnapped by a shadowy group known only as the Vespers. Now Amy and Dan have only days to fulfill a bizarre ransom request or their captured friends will start dying. Amy and Dan don't know what the Vespers want or how to stop them. Only one thing is clear. The Vespers are playing to win, and if they get their hands on the Clues . . . the world will be their next hostage.

Main Points
Writing Style
I’m actually quite curious about how this is going to play out, because these books are written by different authors throughout the series and their writing styles are going to differ. Is that going to impact the way I view the series? We’ll see! Anyway, as can be expected from a Middle Grade book, the writing is straight to the point, fast-paced, full of action, typical. Enjoyable, I guess. Can’t really go wrong with that. That’s what allowed me to read this book straight through (in about 3 hours?).
Content
One thing to note is that I have NOT read the original 39 Clues series. So I had NO BACKGROUND WHATSOEVER going into these books. They were a gift. I am PLEASED TO SAY, however, that the author did an excellent job catching the reader up on past events, or the main idea of past events. IN FACT, I didn’t even realize this wasn’t the main series until I was about 2/3 of the way through the book, and I was like, oh wait…that background info seems like it would have made a great book series….oh duh, it was. The 39 Clues. So I didn’t feel like I was missing out on much. This series (so far) would make a fine standalone series. (I’m actually surprised there are 4 spin-off series’- these are just about two kids’ lives. Thank goodness the books are so short.) But anyway, the plot isn’t entirely original (I mean what can you expect, it’s a Middle Grade*) but it’s still interesting. I mean, it’s basically a hostage/ransom situation. The interesting thing is that these are just kids. Barely teens. Seeing how they handle it is actually more interesting than seeing how adults would handle it. I also like the fact that they are so independent, and no one seems to care enough to change that. There are other adults in their (Amy’s and Dan’s) family, not their parents, but they don’t seem to mind the fact that Amy and Dan are going to try to fix things anyway. They’re all like, okay, go ahead and do it. I like that. No trying to stop them and let the adults handle it. (that may be just because they don’t like the kids, but hey, whatever flies your airship) Another interesting situation is that Amy now has a boyfriend, and while there is of course the whole we-can’t-let-him-in-on-our-secret-lives thing, I get the feeling also that this is a new experience for them and it’s interesting to see how they handle it, like, Dan’s jealousy, Amy’s struggle over keeping her life secret vs. losing her boyfriend, etc. I feel like this wasn’t present in the original series, though I never read it.
So I’m actually kind of eager to continue reading the series. Not that eager, but…it’ll be fun to see where it goes.
Characters
Dan: while he may have been frustrating at times (I mean, he’s just a typical young kid) he is pretty good in the face of a crisis. And there is the ultimate mystery: would he have actually set those guys on fire if he was given a chance? Does he have a conscience? Haha.
Amy: She’s pretty cool too, but a little too sheltering of her boyfriend, which is ironic (should be the other way around). Actually, it is the other way around at the beginning. He worries about her when she stops speaking to him, and she does it of course to protect him from her secret life. How ironic! I like it!
The hostages: Quite an interesting bunch of characters. Quite diverse.
Ending
Well, can’t say it wasn’t predictable. It was a good length book. May have gone on a tad bit long, but that could also have been because I read it for 3 hours straight. Ah well. Completely predictable ending, but leaves openings for the rest of the series, and a few cliffhangers. Well done, anyhow.

*I may seem totally biased against Middle Grade books, which is ironic because while I keep saying I’ll get into YA someday, most of the reviews on this blog so far are of Middle Grade books. Yes, I guess I mostly read MG, because that’s what’s on my bookshelves from when I was younger, and I remember enjoying them. But when I finally work my way out of all the MG books on my shelves, I’ll devote a lot more time to YA. We’ll see how it goes. I am NOT biased against MG books; they are all just sort of similar in a few ways.

 

Good vs. Bad

 

Good:

  • Plot
  • characters
  • situations
  • irony
  • independence
  • background info
Less than perfect:
  • ending
  • length

Bottom Line
This was a great start to the series. Even without reading the original series, I was able to catch up well enough to enjoy the story and interesting cast of characters. It was reasonably predictable but still interesting and full of fun irony. Can’t wait to read the rest of the books. Will I be reading the rest of the series? Obviously. Would I recommend this book to others? I would, to children mostly. And I guess other MG readers like myself.

About Gordon Korman

Korman wrote his first book, “This Can’t be Happening at Macdonald Hall”, when he was 12 years old, for a coach who suddenly found himself teaching 7th grade English. He later took that episode and created a book out of it, as well, in “The Sixth Grade Nickname Game”, wherein Mr. Huge was based on that 7th grade teacher.

Korman moved to New York City, where he studied film and film writing. While in New York, he met his future wife; live in Long Island with their three children.

He has published more than 50 books.

Rating
Plot
three-half-stars
Characters
four-stars
Writing
four-stars
Setting
four-half-stars
Cover
three-half-stars
Overall: three-stars

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