Title: The Forbidden Stone (Copernicus Legacy #1)
Author: Tony Abbott
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pub. Date: January 7, 2014
Genre: Middle Grade
Rec. Age Level: 8-12
More by this author: Secrets of Droon books
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A coded email and an untimely death pull Wade and his friends into a high-stakes battle against a centuries old shadow organization that has them unraveling cryptic clues, consulting history, and racing against time. The Copernicus Legacy will be loved by fans of Rick Riordan's novels, as it features humor, plenty of action, and a group of friends that have the means and the will to save the day.
Though this book has been compared to Dan Brown's novels (rightfully so), it also reminds me a bit of the overarching plot of the show Alias. An ancient historical figure, in this case Copernicus, a revolutionary years and years ahead of his time, organized a protective society and a high stakes set of clues that lead our heroes across the globe and pits them against dangerous and deadly foes. Switch super spy Sydney Bristow for a foursome of uniquely talented, but otherwise normal kids and you've got The Copernicus Legacy.
I loved that the villains in The Forbidden Stone were actually villainous. There's evidence of them assassinating adults that get in their way and it's clear that they have no qualms about taking out the kids (if only they could catch them!). Of course, that isn't to say this book is especially violent - there is loss of life but the main characters always arrives after the fact and there is little detail. It isn't about the actual death (or even gore), it's about amplifying the intensity and importance of the kids' mission.
There also seems to be evidence of the beginnings of a back story for the lead villain, which I especially look forward to. Villains are much more believable and compelling when the reader has an inkling of what drives them.
I'm very much looking forward to the future installments of this series. There are twelve books planned, alternating between a full novel and smaller, specific character driven novel, so it looks like this series will keep fans busy for quite some time.