Pompous, pedantic, school-blazer–sporting Addison Cooke is off to the Gobi Desert.
Addison’s archaeologist aunt and uncle are going on a dig in China, but their colleague has something else in mind: find the secret hoard of Genghis Khan. When his aunt and uncle are kidnapped by a Chinese gang, it’s up to the Gershwin-loving, 13-year-old white boy and his entourage to save them. The story is bloated with what seems like every adventure trope and plot device in existence, including colonizing attitudes, a “city of the dead,” a trail of cryptic clues leading to an ancient treasure hidden deep beneath a cave, a soothsaying shaman (who speaks the “sacred language” of English), a legacy to save the world, and the pièce de résistance: a prophecy involving the hero’s death. Constant reference to the group as Addison’s “team” implies hierarchy: a white boy in charge of a white girl and two male ethnic others. There’s Addison’s sister, Molly, and his best friends, Eddie Chang, a feminized Chinese boy afraid of his own shadow, and Indian Raj Bhandari, a camo-wearing survival expert. The third-person narrative is from bumptious Addison’s viewpoint, with some miscellaneous hopping into other characters’ heads for a beat or two. Despite fast-paced action scenes dominating the nearly 500 pages, it’s still a slog.
Been there, done that. (Adventure. 8-13)