by Peter Lerangis
Jack McKinley thought that his biggest problem was his first period math test, but he has no idea what fate has planned. As he rushes to school one morning, he blacks out as a car speeds towards him and wakes up in a hospital. He soon learns that it is not in a normal hospital, but at the Karai Institute, where a strange professor tells Jack that he suffers from a rare genetic condition and the employees of the secret organization are the only ones who can treat him. Jack doesn't believe him, and tries to escape with three other kids who, like him, have been taken away from their regular lives because of their so-called genetic conditions. However, it soon becomes clear that something truly is wrong with them, so they return to learn more. Professor Bhegad, the institute's leader, explains that they are descendents of the people of Atlantis, and the only way to cure their illness – which will eventually kill them if they fail – is to recover the loculi hidden in the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. But how can they recover the loculi when the all the wonders, save one, were destroyed centuries ago?
This adventure story takes a while to get going. The first half of the book is very repetitive – Jack faints, gets shanghaied to the Karai Institute, and tries to escape. He returns to the institute, meets the other main characters, and with three other children tries to escape. They fail, return to the institute, and begin training to access their special Atlantean gifts. They go on a hike, get sick, and return to the institute. There are some puzzles thrown in to entertain and challenge young readers, and eventually the narrative livens up when a gryphon kidnaps one of the children. I kept wondering when the kids would do something relating to the Seven Wonders, and why we were spending so much time talking about Atlantis instead.
In a series called “Seven Wonders Books”, I expect the seven wonders to show up and play a prominent role. In The Colossus Rises, over two-thirds of the book goes by before the wonders are mentioned, and the Colossus hardly makes an appearance. Instead, the reader a couple of attempts by the children to escape the Karai Institute and a training montage or two, sprinkled with a vague backstory about Atlantis.
One of the characters, Cass, has a habit of speaking words backwards. That is, he'll say things like “You're my oreh!” instead of “You're my hero!” - and as near as the reader can tell, no one has any difficulty understanding him. As I imagine a character actually following the speech pattern, I run into trouble. A word like 'dancing' becomes 'gnicnad' – just try to say that out loud. Would the 'g' be silent, making the resulting word sound something like “nick nod?” How would any of his friends extrapolate the correct word from that? It's a cute idea on paper, when you can look at the letters and easily figure out what he means, but I just can't see it working in normal conversation. But I guess kids won't think about that sort of thing.
This will appeal to young fans of Percy Jackson or the 39 Clues series, but it lacks the charm and crossover appeal to attract adult readers.
3 out of 5 stars
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Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2012: The White Snake
2011: Off to Ashland for a few days!
2010: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith
2009: Sorry for the late notice – ducking out again!