The 39 Clues: One False Note
by Gordon Korman
MG fiction. 174 pp.
The race is on to find 39 Clues that safeguard a great power, and fourteen-year-old Amy Cahill and her younger brother, Dan, are shocked to find themselves in the lead. The search seems to be taking them to Vienna, and they hold a coded piece of Mozart's sheet music that's key to finding the next Clue. But tailed by a pack of power-hungry relatives, Amy and Dan can't see if they are sailing toward victory—or straight into a deadly trap.
When I reviewed the first book in the series, I complained about the alternating first-person chapters, because I hated being in Amy's head. Fortunately, Korman has moved the story to third person, which works a lot better for me as a reader (even if I'm not fond of third-person omniscient or Korman's frequent shifts in character POV throughout the novel). I think it also works better for the story. There's something to be said for following the mystery while observing the action as opposed to being the action.
Korman downplayed much of the historical tidbittery of Mozart. Whereas this helped move the action along more smoothly, I miss the fleshing out of the historical character.
Perhaps the greatest improvement Korman has brought to the series is the diminished role of the Cahill cousins. I think it was important to get some heavy exposure to them in the first book, especially considering that they're the antagonists of the series. But I like not having to focus on so many of them all the time.
In the end, I'm really liking the way the series is progressing and developing. The multiple authors are going to provide some variety, and right now I'm okay with that. (We'll see how I like it after the third book, considering that I already love reading Riordan and Korman.)
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