The 39 Clues: The Sword Thief
by Peter Lerangis
Review by Gayle Surrette
Scholastic Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780545060431
Date: 03 March 2009 List Price $12.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Amy and Dan Cahill and their au pair, Nellie, have found the clue they need and they're off for Japan. Except at the airport, Dan and Amy are held back after Nellie passes boarding and their tickets are stolen by the Kabras. The children have no choice when Alistair Oh shows up and offers to fly them to the next stop. So, once again they have to trust someone who is also out to get the clues and the prize.
This is the third installment of the 39 Clues, and the action will take place in Japan. Since Amy and Dan don't know the language and they've been cut off from their au pair, they have to trust that Alistair will get them to Japan and help them find Nellie. So far in these books that doesn't look like a likely outcome since most of the other family members haven't been adverse to dirty tricks in order to win at this scavenger hunt.
Each of these books is written by a different author. There's an over-riding story arc that the authors have to work within so that all the books will work together. However, in the last book Amy and Dan had finally started to understand and appreciate each other's talents, working to compensate for each other's weaknesses and strengths. Their au pair also showed herself to be someone that they could trust and that would back them up in tight spots while protecting them as much as possible. Now in book three it's back to square one with the children continually zinging each other with insults and in many cases working against each other. Again at the end, they begin to work together but based on three books now I'm betting that book four sets their relationship back to the beginning again.
Once again the clues are convoluted and hard to follow as they're based on historical references to cultures and people. In this case, if you aren't knowledgeable about Japanese history, you'll be as confused as Amy and Dan. Luckily this time Aistair Oh is there to help them understand the bits and pieces of clues that they have managed to find.
While the stories are exciting and the adventure daring, the whining of the children is really annoying until they start working together -- they did it in book one, two, and now in three. I'd prefer if each author built on what was learned in the last book and then moved forward as starting at ground zero each time is getting very annoying.
Otherwise, it's fun. The books each come with six new cards to use to solve the online clues so readers can also search for their 39 clues to win the prize.