Guardians of the Hidden Scepter by Frank L. Cole, Cedar Fort, Inc., 2011, 288 pages.
Source: EGalley from the publisher via NetGalley.
Summary (from Goodreads):
Amber never dreamed her archaeology class would turn into a top secret mission that would take her across the globe, but when her teacher goes missing, Amber realizes it's up to her to protect the Hidden Scepter or risk unleashing an ancient power too terrifying to imagine. This guaranteed page-turner from the bestselling author of the Hashbrown Winters series is perfect for the adventurer in your family.
This is a book that is full of adventure and page turning mystery right from the beginning. Dorothy is a dynamic and interesting archaeology teacher at an exclusive boarding school. However, when she goes missing, she leaves clues for her students to try and finish something that she has started. Fourteen year old Amber is intent on figuring out the puzzle and finding her favourite teacher and she encourages her classmates Joseph, Lisa and Trendon to help. This leads the kids to mystries to solve, bad guys to avoid, and various other dangers. There is also teamwork, friendship, betrayal and interesting plot twists.
I enjoyed the characters in this book, especially how smart and innovative they are. They are a bit stereotypical, especially at the beginning, for example, Amber is smart, quiet, reserved, and good at school, while Trendon is a junk food eating computer and gaming expert. However, they also show growth as they leave their comfort zones and learn to be confident in their abilities and work to figure out the puzzle.
I also liked how Frank Cole played with history and archaeology to create the mystery in the book. I do not want to give anything away, so I won't say very much, but I found his use of historical speculation to be fun and Indiana Jones like.
One thing to note, I was a little surprised by the level of violence in the book, especially for this age group - there were guns, killing, and some scary situations - but it did fit into the book and didn't not feel gratuitous.
This is an interesting, exciting book, full of intense action and suspense that keeps you turning the pages to find out what will happen next, but is also clever and thoughtful. I would have a hard time saying that this book would appeal to either boys or girls more because, even though it is told from Amber's point of view, both the female and male characters are very strong. I would highly recommend this book to middle school kids who are looking for intelligent mystery, suspence, and adventure.
If you are intersted in this book, check back in a couple of days when I will post an interview with Frank Cole and he will offer a copy of Guardians of the Hidden Scepter in a giveaway.