A mysterious Outcast threatens to usurp Ian Kabra's place as the head of the world's most powerful family.
The Cahills have long been the most affluent family in the world. The family tree boasts world leaders, famed scientists, Olympic athletes and movie stars. Sitting atop the tree is 17-year-old Ian. But trouble’s afoot. A mysterious figure known as the Outcast has put into motion a plan that will shake the family to its core. Soon Ian finds himself on the run and in search of his exiled relations, Amy and Dan. Together, the trio must stop a disastrous event, but none are quite sure where or when it will happen. This is a competently written entry in the 39 Clues series, this being the first entry in the fourth arc. Unfortunately it is hamstrung by the series' usual problem: Every character is incredibly smart and incredibly talented and incredibly rich. The power fantasy here is similar to those derived from cheap comic books but minus the stylish illustrations or dynamic direction. Everyone is so similarly characterized that the book feels flat, and the knowledge of planned sequels deflates any urgency to these proceedings. There's simply no magnetic personality here that pushes engagement with the narrative. Longtime fans of the series will read out of loyalty or devotion to the franchise, but newcomers will find little to bring them back for seconds, thirds and fourths.
More of the same. (Adventure. 10-12)