Sunday, January 6, 2013

Trust No One (Cahill vs. Vespers bk. 5) by Linda Sue Park

A spell of time has passed since I read a book I really liked in this series. I skimmed a previous one (can't remember which one) and it was so unbelievable, I lost my desire to read them. This series always has plenty of action, but I thought the historical details had become second citizens in the plot and the characters weren't changing enough to hold my interest. Linda Sue Park gives the series the boost I think it needs, balancing the writing elements of a believable plot along with characters whose voices show their internal conflicts as they grow and change in stressful circumstances. 

Dan and Amy Cahill are being controlled by the Vespers, a group that has kidnapped seven of their relatives, and threatens to kill them if the two don't do what they ask-which is usually stealing some famous artifact or artwork. Their mission this time is to steal the Voynich manuscript, a 15th century writing in a language that no one can decipher, that is housed at Yale's library. Along with the help of friends Atticus and Jake, the four discover the Vespers are out to build a doomsday machine. In an interesting twist at the end, Dan makes a desperate move in an effort to turn the tables on the Vespers.

I admire how Park crafts her plot. It can't be easy writing this series because it must have prescribed plot points that happen and a writer has to work those elements in versus having the freedom of creative plot development. I would love to find out how much leeway she has when writing these novels and if the constraints are easier, harder, or make no difference.

At one point I noticed that Atticus was trying to get respect from the three older kids while Amy was struggling with the stress of finding clues and having feelings for Jake and her boyfriend, Evan, and I wondered about Dan's thoughts. Park gives him equal time but not until the last third of the novel in which he is forced to step into a leadership position. The wise-cracking Dan is growing up in the books and she does a terrific job at character development. The series violence continues with stabbings, deaths, and attacks on the kids. A historical buffet of the Voynich manuscript, Archimedes, and Brazil's culture are quite tasty.  A quick, fun read.

Reading Level 4.8
4 out of 5 Smileys

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