Title: The Medusa Plot
Series: #1 Cahills vs. Vespers (sequel series to 39 Clues)
Author: Gordon Korman
ISBN: 9780545298391
Pages: 222 pages
Publisher/Date: Scholastic, c2011.
Reviewed from ARC furnished by publisher
Publication Date: August 30, 2011

“Early this morning,” McIntyre said grimly, “Fiske Cahill disappeared from the El Rancho Jojoba Spa in California.” […]
“At around the same time as the last known sighting of Fiske, Reagan Holt went out on a training swim in the Caribbean and never come back. Natalie Kabra was reported missing from her boarding school. Thy traced her as far as Harrods in London, and there the trail ended. And in Tokyo, young Phoenix Wizard vanished from on of his cousin’s – shall we say livelier concerts, right under the collective nose of Jonah’s security–what is the word?”
“Possee,” Dan supplied, distracted.
Amy was profoundly shocked. “A little over an hour ago, our bus was attacked by three men in ski masks.” (29)

Two years after everyone thought the hunt for the 39 Clues had ended, the Cahills are being kidnapped. One from each branch has mysteriously disappeared, all around the same time. Amy and Dan narrowly escape capture themselves, having been informed of the possibility of a showdown with the powerful secret society known as the Vespers. They don’t know what the ultimate plan is, but Amy and Dan know that they mean business. So when the Vespers set up a ransom demand for a priceless painting, the brother and sister team fly to Florence. But just as before, nothing goes as planned. The pair realize that they might have to ban together with the rest of the family to solve these multiple mysteries if they’re ever going to recover the hostages alive.

Immediate reaction: Da Vinci Code for middle schoolers, but without the religious controvery. I throughly enjoyed the beginning of this series, and I think Gordon Korman has got it off to a great start. Although there is a brief trip to Rome’s Colosseum, the siblings primarily stay in Florence, which makes it easier to keep track of the plot as opposed to the jet setting from one end of the world to the other in the span of two days. I also liked the team work that comes into play as the Cahills ban together with a member of the Jonas, Holt, Starling and Kabra families. For one thing, it doesn’t make Amy and Dan appear like the super siblings, which was always a complaint of mine regarding the 39 Clues series. The information presented is also geared more towards the audience, covering gladiators and Medusa. Dan’s jokes, while still corny, would also appear to readers. Don’t forget to check the page numbers for a clue, along with the cover photo.

It’s interesting to see how the characters have evolved over the last two years, and I hope that evolution continues as different authors take up the reins. Both Amy and Dan have grown in their emotions and thoughts, which adds depth to both their characters. Amy is gaining confidence as being the guardian-less older sibling, and worries about Dan’s exposure to all of these trials and lack of friends as they struggle to come to terms with their life after the clue hunt. Dan at the beginning compares it to life after war, which is really mature of him, and we see some of the effects the hunt has had on him.

A fresh infusion to what I thought was a previously inconsistent series, hopefully this will inject some new life for a new group of readers.