Author: Sarah L. Thomson
Similar books: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman
Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
When middle school puzzle master Sam and history wiz Martina win a contest for a summer trip across the US, they discover they've been drafted into something vastly more extraordinary. Joining another kid on the trip, Theo, a descendant of George Washington himself, they must follow clues to find seven keys left behind by the Founding Fathers. Together the keys unlock Benjamin Franklin's greatest invention--a secret weapon intended to defend the country. Each key is hidden in a unique location around the U.S., protected with puzzles, riddles, and traps. This has kept the weapon safe . . . until now! Gideon Arnold, a dangerous descendant of the infamous Benedict Arnold, is on the chase.
In competition with Arnold and his thugs to reach the artifacts first, Sam, Martina, Theo, and readers must use their wits to solve ingenious puzzles, escape death-by-booby-trap, and, by the end of the series, save our nation by uncovering many of its greatest secrets.
My opinion: There are some great elements in this book. You've got a team made up of disparate personality types and a nicely complex plot. That plot is well set-up for a full series; clearly each book will focus on finding one of a series of keys leading to a final confrontation with Arnold for control of all of the keys and, thus, the mystery weapon. There's plenty of room there for complications, different types of puzzles to introduce and solve. The inclusion of historical trivia and the use of the national parks as settings is a great element as well. There is a danger, with a beginning like this, for the strong structure of the larger plot to become stale and predictable if there are not enough new elements introduced in each further novel. And with the characters not only needing to learn to work as a team but all having slightly abrasive personalities, this book lacks the charm of more established team series like Percy Jackson.
Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.