Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Reader's Diary #1046- Rick Riordan: 39 Clues, The Maze of Bones

I've listened to audio short stories on occasion and as a kid I used to listen to books on cd tape record ("turn the page when you here the bells chime like this..."), but as an adult I've not committed to an entire audiobook. On the last leg of our recent road trip, however, with 8 hours left to go between High Level, Alberta and Yellowknife, the adults starting to tire of the music we brought and the kids bored with the DVDs they brought, I decided to see if I could find an audiobook that we could all enjoy and squeeze in to get us through the final 716km. We decided to go with book one of Rick Riordan's 39 Clues series. It promised a tale about a family with loads of globe trotting adventure and hey, we figured we could relate to that.

First off, I'm not sure if I'd take on another audiobook in just one sitting. 39 Clues, as narrated by David Pittu, clocks in at just over 5 hours. While that's not excessive for an audiobook, I found it a lot to take on in one chunk. I was driving when it started but before the halfway point I had to switch with Debbie as I was afraid I would doze off. Not that the book was boring or that the narration wasn't dynamic, but listening to anyone read for two hours straight would probably make me drowsy. That we had just crammed 5000+ km of driving into 2 weeks probably didn't help matters. I should also note that I speak alone on this point. When I mentioned to Debbie that on the next road trip, if we decide to do another audiobook we should break it up in say half hour installments, she disagreed and said that it made the time fly by. A final point on the narration: while we all appreciated that Pittu attempted voices, I wasn't wild about the soft, breathy voice he chose for Amy Cahill, a teenage girl and one of the two main characters.

As for the story itself, it was mostly exciting if not a little far fetched at times. Amy and her brother Dan discover through their grandmother's will that the Cahill family, to which they belong, is the most influential family the world has ever known. They, as well as a select handful of other relatives, are given a choice between a million dollar inheritance or the first of 39 clues. Should they be the first to unravel all of the clues, they stand to become the greatest and most powerful Cahill in history. Amy and Dan obviously decide to take the gamble. It's full of conspiracy theories, historical tidbits, cliffhangers and suspense. It was like a Dan Brown novel for kids. And I don't mean that as an indictment of Riordan; I think such an over-the-top book is better suited for kids. However, I did find the characters a bit too cartoonish at times. Hopefully in later additions to the series Riordan started making them a bit more three dimensional. Still haven't decided if we'll do more yet though, and if we do, whether or not we'll stick with the audiobooks.

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