Jake Ransom and the Skull King’s Shadow

May 6, 2009

Three years ago, Jake and Kady’s parents disappeared on a mysterious expedition. Now, Jake is 13 and an aspiring archaeologist, while his older sister Kady cares about popularity. Then, a strange envelope signed to Jake and Kady shows up on their doorstep. The envelope contains an invitation to a museum exhibit that features artifacts discovered on the last expedition of the Ransoms. The next thing they know, Jake and Kady are transported to another world that includes t-rexes, cavemen, Mayans, and Romans!

I received this book from Harper Children’s First Look Program before it ended. I did not really know what to expect. Most children adventure novels for me are average or miss. This one was average, but the novel included some great parts. I liked how Jake and Kady’s parents mysteriously disappeared. It hooked me to the novel before I even started reading. I also liked the world (Calypsos) that Jake and Kady find themselves in. Rollins created a world with so many secrets and oddities. I mean where else can you find Mayans and Romans together? 😉 Another thing that I really liked was the history in the novel. Rollins included facts from many ancient civilizations. Instead of just giving readers another adventure novel, Rollins also gives a history lesson–one that’s far more entertaining than my World History class. I also liked how Rollins left questions unanswered but did not end in a major cliffhanger. It was a great way to end the first novel of a series.

Now for the negatives. I thought that most of the characters were boring and cliche. There was nothing unique about Kady, and Jake was not much better. The lack of uniqueness made the main characters uninteresting, which is never good. The only minor characters I particularly liked were Pindor (Jake’s friend) and Pindor’s brother. Considering this book focuses on adventure, I can overlook some of the issues I had with characters.