Friday, January 17, 2014

ARC Review: The Forbidden Stone - Tony Abbott

The Forbidden Stone by Tony Abbott
Series: The Copernicus Legacy #1
Genre: Middle Grade, adventure
Published on January 7, 2014
Published by Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 423
Read From: 1.10.14 - 1.11.14

It all began when four friends - Wade, Lily, Darrell, and Becca - received a strange, coded email from Wade's uncle Henry shortly before the old man's sudden death. They set off for Germany to attend the funeral with Wade's father, Roald, and discover that Uncle Henry left them yet another baffling message that they suspect is the key to figuring out how and why he died.
The more clues they discover, the farther they travel down a treacherous path toward an ancient, guarded secret. Soon they are in a breathless race across the globe, running for their lives as a dangerous shadow organization chases them. Their only hope of saving themselves - and the world - is to find twelve magical relics from a hidden past and unlock the Copernicus Legacy.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I do like the cover art a lot. While there is a character impersonator in the background, you can't see his face. The rest of the cover screams adventure story, and how can I resist something like that? Me, who grew up on Indiana Jones and other likeminded movies and stories?

Characters: I didn't dislike anyone, and that is always important. However, I also didn't care about anyone. That isn't to say that Wade, Darrell, Lily, and Becca didn't have personalities - they did. But for some reason, their personalities didn't come across as all that strong to me. Lily was a pretty typical modern girl - she talks too much, liked to shop, and doesn't know a whole lot about history or literature, but she's techy and that does come in handy. She was pretty classic for that type of character; there wasn't anything to distinguish her from all the other modern girls gracing literature. Becca was quiet and bookish - again, pretty classic. Darrell was into sports, and Wade was the scholar. But nothing ever made them different from their archetypes. The same goes for the villainess, who just wasn't threatening, and her henchmen were so cliche that I did almost groan. There was definitely some eye-rolling. So characters are not this book's strong point.

The Romance: Wade has a crush on Becca, and Lily is developing one for Darrell. But it's not all that prominent.

Plot: Wade is obsessed with astronomy, and his "Uncle" Henry (who isn't by blood his uncle, but one of his father's oldest friends) once sent him a very old and unique star chart for his birthday. Little did Wade know how important that star chart would become. When he and his stepbrother Darrell discover a strange encrypted email on their father's computer, it sets them on the adventure of a lifetime. Uncle Henry has met a mysterious demise - an "accident," the media is calling it, - but the email makes it pretty clear that someone murdered Uncle Henry in their search for what is called Copernicus' Legacy. With their father Roald, and two friends Becca and Lily, Wade and Darrell travel to Germany and follow several clues that Uncle Henry has left behind - the first of them being the very star chart he sent Wade for his birthday. But someone is hot on their trail, and they are willing to do anything it takes to get what they want - even murder. So the plot is actually very engaging. Part Indiana Jones, part Da Vinci Code, it has codes and ancient riddles and artifacts and hidden chambers - the sort of thing one would expect in a good adventure novel. The pacing itself was even good. And yes, I realize that for four kids to be traveling the world, there needs to be a supervising adult. But the one thing that most (if not all) kids will agree on is: parents ruin a good adventure. One does not simply bring one's parents on an expedition! I also have to admit that Copernicus' Legacy - when you find out what it is - is a little . . . . far fetched, even for an adventure novel. Maybe it was the execution of it, but it just felt a little out of place.

Believability: Not applicable, to be honest (can't explain why without giving stuff away).

Writing Style: First person, past tense. A lot of the dialogue was unnecessary and came across as time filler. The characters often thought out loud way too much. But probably the most annoying thing about the writing was the Author's insistence on writing accents. Every once in a while, I will come across a book where I don't mind if the Author does this. But in The Forbidden Stone, it just drove me up a wall.

Content: None.

Conclusion: A jungle, shootouts, and kidnappings - all classic adventure story stuff. The Forbidden Stone is definitely not the best adventure story I've ever read. The plot is intriguing - and for that reason alone I'll finish reading the series. But the writing was nothing special and the characters left no lasting impression.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-boy read, nine-and-up.

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