Courtesy of Larry D. Moore
The 39 Clues begins with the introduction and demise of Grace Cahill, a matriarch with a will that is about to change the lives of all those in it. As she dies, her thoughts are with two of her descendants, Amy and Dan Cahill. Amy is fourteen-years-old and Dan is eleven-years-old. Grace is about to give them (and several others) a choice between two million dollars and the scavenger hunt of a lifetime. You get the sense that she knows what they will choose.
As the book goes on, you find that Amy and Dan are the least equipped, as far as money and chaperonage, of the Cahill family members that take up Grace's challenge. However, they are arguably the most resourceful. The book follows them as they race for the first of The 39 Clues, which will lead them to "The Maze of Bones." Along the way, they discover little clues about their very powerful family, their deceased parents and the scavenger hunt. There are a lot of subplots and mysteries in "The Maze of Bones," but they are simple enough to make The 39 Clues a perfect edition to the genre.
The plot and subplots of "The 39 Clues: Book One: The Maze of Bones" would make it suitable for an adult novel, if it were written differently. It is that interesting. However, it is simply not intricate enough for the average adult reader, which makes it perfect for kids. It has a great story, it is not too cutesy and the plot is easy to follow. There are plenty of sinister characters with evil intentions, but the follow-through is not bad enough to warrant concern for young readers. The two main characters, Dan and Amy Cahill are likable and their punk rock au pair is just cool enough for the kids and just responsible enough for adults.
The best part about "The Maze of Bones" and all of The 39 Clues books is that they follow real historical characters and true history in modern settings around the world. This is a great way for young readers to get interested in figures like Benjamin Franklin and Mozart. It is also a great way to get them curious about what historical figures are going to come next.