A teen takes on the mysteries of the world—some real, some imagined—in this erudite thriller.
Seventeen-year-old Daniel Calder’s father is an expert on ancient languages (aka a Babbler, named for the biblical story of the Tower of Babel); his mother is an equally prestigious mathematician who’s interested in recent disappearances of women around the world. Their careers often tear the family apart, sending home-schooled, dyslexic Daniel with his father to look for clues about the Phaistos Disk (a fictional relic that may be evidence of an unknown ancient civilization) or climbing mountains with his mother in Patagonia. When his mother dies in a bizarre accident, the teen begins to connect the elements of his scattered life. Adding to the mix in this ambitious, sometimes heavy-handed trilogy opener is Julius Quinn, a former graduate assistant to Daniel’s father, who’s become an overnight cult leader to followers who may know a stairway to heaven. Along with his half-Chinese, half-Scottish “twin sister” Morag, another Babbler and his father’s protégée, Daniel seeks answers to both personal questions (Was his mother killed? Is there a connection between her death and the missing women?) and highly intellectual ones (Why do humans have language? Where are the intersections of religion, myth and truth?). And he might just save humanity, too.
A niche read for advanced, philosophical readers. (author’s notes) (Thriller. 14 & up)