Monday, October 24, 2011

Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow (MG)

Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow. James Rollins. 2009. HarperCollins. 400 pages.

First sentence of prologue: The man fled down the steep slope of the jungle mountain.

By the second page of the prologue, I was hooked. He had me with: "Few people had ever set eyes on the giant mountain; even fewer had ever walked its slopes. And only one man knew its secret. He had learned the truth. The Mountain of Bones...was no mountain." Even before the real story of this one started, I just had to know what happened next.

First sentence chapter one: From his school desk, Jake Ransom willed the second hand on the wall clock to sweep away the final minutes of his sixth period history class.

This fantasy novel stars Jake Ransom and his sister, Kady. Their parents were great adventurers, great archaeologists, but they've been missing (and presumed dead) for just over three years. The novel opens with the two children being invited to a museum exhibit (in London) featuring some of their parents' last finds. Jake definitely wants to go; in fact, he feels he NEEDS to go. Kady, well, she isn't sure how she feels about it. She isn't sure if seeing the exhibit will make her feel better or worse about her parents deaths.

But this is no ordinary exhibit, it holds great excitement, great danger, for the is the beginning of all their adventures...

I really, really enjoyed this fantasy novel. I thought it was very compelling, very exciting, very difficult to put down. It so easily could have been a premise-driven novel with underdeveloped characters, but, for me, I thought the characters were done nicely. It's still a plot-driven novel--very action-packed with danger and thrills--but the characters do matter.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Kailana 3:48 AM  

I am so glad you enjoyed this. I have read his adult books, but never his books for younger readers.

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
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  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
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I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
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  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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