Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow by James Rollins

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Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow by James Rollins

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: A breathtaking and original tale of two young people who find themselves in a mysterious and dangerous world.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: July 2010
Publisher: Orion Children's Books
ISBN: 978-1444000610

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The prologue to this splendid book recounts a terrifying chase, the discovery of fabulous Mayan artifacts, and a shadowy enemy. And that gripping scene sets the tone for the rest of the book. After the strange disappearance of their parents, who were on an archeological dig on the Mountain of Bones, Jake Ransom and his sister Kady are sent a parcel containing two halves of a Mayan coin, their mother's sketchbook and their father's notebook. There is no indication what these things mean or what to do with them.

We first meet Jake and Kady three years later. The two young people have reacted very differently to the loss of their parents. Jake, a highly intelligent boy, is determined to continue the studies begun by his father and mother. He would rather hunt for fossils, study physics and attend lectures on anthropology than make friends. His older sister on the other hand has done the opposite. She is a member of the popular crowd, spending her time at cheer practice and pool parties, and on the surface at least seems to have forgotten all about their parents.

But there are sinister forces at work in their lives. An invitation arrives from the Bledsworth Corporation for them to fly to England to attend an exhibition at the British Museum about their parents' discoveries: all expenses paid, first class seats and a penthouse suite at the Savoy. Jake soon begins to suspect their presence is nothing but a ploy to sell more tickets for the event. But when he and Kady touch the main exhibit, a miniature golden pyramid, the siblings are transported to another world, known as Calypsos.

Calypsos is a fascinating place, and one of the major reasons why the story is so spellbinding. People from different countries and cultures, and even from different eras, live together in a valley defended by a force field at the top of a volcano. Here, James Rollins allows his imagination full rein. Roman soldiers use dinosaurs to draw their chariots, and a medieval castle sits beside an Egyptian obelisk and a Sumerian temple. People study alchemy, use crystals for light and energy, and hold their own version of the Olympics.

Jake and Kady are accepted and welcomed to Calypsos, and enjoy sharing their modern technology and way of life with their new friends while they try to find their way home. A dog whistle proves an invaluable aid to survival, and the scene where Kady teaches cheerleading moves to a group of Viking warrior women is unforgettable. However, Calypsos in under threat, and soon the two young people are battling for their lives.

James Rollins is quoted as saying For Jake, I saved my wildest and best adventure of all, and this fast-paced story certainly bears out that statement. But the book is not merely a high-octane, suspense-filled thriller. There is just enough detail about the varied civilisations within Calypsos to whet the appetite of young readers, and while they wait for the next book in the series, many will feel encouraged to do further research.

Many thanks to Orion for sending this excellent book to The Bookbag!

Further reading suggestion: Readers who enjoy this book will also like Bloodchild by Tim Bowler and The Bloodstone Bird by Inbali Iserles.

Buy Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow by James Rollins at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow by James Rollins at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow by James Rollins at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow by James Rollins at Amazon.com.


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