Wade receives a coded message from his uncle shortly before his uncle dies. Wade is determined to solve the mystery of this message, so he, his sister, and three of his friends embark on a globe-crossing journey to find the answers.
What I liked: the mystery element, the anagrams and puzzles that make this read like the daVinci Code for kids, the way the four kids worked together, the absence of red flags that would make this book an easy one to recommend for a variety of kids
I was SO EXCITED to find out that part of the story would take place on Guam, an island where I taught for six years.
But apparently the author did not do much research on Guam, or perhaps thought that knowledge of Hawaii = knowledge of Guam. For the parts of the story that occurred on Guam, instead of being excited, I was just frustrated. Here is a not-exhaustive list of errors:
1. The group leaves the airport and heads down the "south east side of the island" to get to a person's home. The only road from the airport that heads down the island is down the south west side, near all the hotels and shops that are placed there to attract tourists.
2. The person they are visiting lives in a bungalow. That may be the correct term for her home, but no one on Guam refers to their home as "my bungalow." No one.
3. The group is warned to beware of large wild boar that will attack them in the jungle. There are no native mammals on Guam, so unless this person confused the boonie dogs with boar, this is false.
4. The group is warned about a typhoon, the arrival of which is heralded by "dark blue clouds." The sky is actually deceptively clear right before a typhoon. Also, the "typhoon" in this story sounds more like a typical rainstorm, as it is over after just an hour or so and the island residents felt safe enough to let the characters run out into the jungle searching for an artifact during this storm. Real typhoons are scary - they're hurricanes in the Pacific - and no one on Guam would be caught dead outside during such a storm. Also, a real typhoon would have caused lots of damage and power outages.
5. The group's injuries are treated at the hospital on the (presumably) navy base. This is not likely, as security is tight and people, even US citizens, do not get to waltz onto the base at random. The group would have had to go to Guam Memorial Hospital (which I would NOT recommend, even if your arm were severed from your body).
6. The sun is described as burning off the humidity. HAH! There is never a day on Guam that is not humid. The sun coming out after a rainstorm (which occur several times a day on Guam) would have drastically increased the humidity as the water from the storm evaporated.
Sigh. I was so excited about the Guam locale, but so disappointed. Nonetheless, this book is one my students would probably enjoy.
Recommended for: tweens, middle grade
Red Flags: if "impending death and doom" counts, then that's a definite red flag
Overall Rating: 2.5/5 stars