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Jake Ransom and the Skull King's shadow

by James Rollins


Syndetic Solutions - [Book Review for 9780061473791]

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Publishers Weekly :

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This exciting time-travel adventure opens three years after Jake Ransom's archeologist parents have disappeared in the Yucatán, leaving him and his sister, Kady, nothing but their journals and a Mayan coin, broken in half. The siblings receive an invitation to attend an exhibition of Mayan antiquities at the British Museum, and are soon after catapulted into the prehistoric past where ancient Mayans, Romans, Egyptians, Vikings and even Neanderthals have joined together to do battle with the Skull King, a creature so evil that he only appears wrapped in shadows, as if the darkness were scared of what lay hidden at its heart and attempted to hide the horror from the world. Jake, an Indiana Jones in the making, and Kady, a cheerleader who learns to channel her inner Viking, fight the Skull King to a draw, discovering clues about their missing parents. In this series opener, Rollins (The Last Oracle) presents a wide range of interesting historical information while telling a rollicking good story that should please a wide range of readers—and maybe even some of his adult fans. Ages 10–up. (May)

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Syndetic Solutions - [Book Review for 9780061473791]

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School Library Journal :

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Gr 5–9—Eighth-grader Jake and his older sister Kady are invited to the British Museum to view the Mayan treasures their archaeologist parents discovered shortly before their disappearance three years earlier. Jake takes along what is left of their parents' possessions: a field log, a sketch book, and two halves of a gold Mayan coin (worn by the siblings around their necks). At the exhibit, Jake examines a two-foot-tall solid gold pyramid with a round hole in its side. He places the Mayan coin in the slot, which creates an explosion, transporting the siblings to another place and time. Calypsos is a land inhabited by dinosaurs, mythical and fantastical creatures, and people from long-lost civilizations. Upon their arrival, Jake and Kady befriend two teens, Pindor and Marika. Together they must save Calypsos from the banished Skull King who threatens to return and take over the land. The pace of the story is occasionally a little slow, but readers who stick with it will be caught up in the adventure, particularly those who are interested in Mayan culture. The characters are likable, especially Jake and Pindor, who experience the insecurities of most teens. Simple drawings add visual aid to the descriptions of Mayan glyphs and other objects. Unanswered questions surrounding their parents' disappearance and the connection between Jake and the Skull King will have readers eagerly looking for the next installment in the series.—Kelley Siegrist, Farmington Community Library, MI

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Syndetic Solutions - [Book Review for 0061473790]

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BookList :

From BookList, March 15, 2009, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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Rollins, a best-selling author of adult adventure, takes on the youth market with mostly good results, including a strong opener: a package from a Mayan archaeology site is lost (along with its sender) in quicksand, but it is only a decoy. Jake Ransom and his older sister receive the matching halves of a gold coin, an artifact that eventually fires them into a strange land where tribes of lost civilizations live side-by-side with prehistoric animals. In premise, this is very Harry Potter-Jake, a virtual orphan (his archaeologist parents have disappeared), has the fate of many resting on his skinny shoulders as he tries to fight a Voldemort-like specter, who has inspired traitors to his side. Stylistically,  however, Rollins is no Rowling, though his short paragraphs and staccato sentences make this a fine read for the reluctant or those who put a premium on action. Oddly, things get a bit more ho-hum as they become more fantastical, but those left wondering what's next will apparently have many sequel opportunities to find out. The intensive media campaign will no doubt promote demand. Cooper, Ilene.

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