Actual rating: 4.5 stars
This review first appeared on Thoughts and Pens book blog.
After reading two uninspiring MG books for the last couple of weeks, I thought that The Forbidden Stone would be no better especially that the blurb said, “Rick Riordan meets Dan Brown in this exhilarating and adventurous new tween series from beloved and bestselling author Tony Abbott.” And you know what usually happens when a book is marketed as “the next blah blah” or “this book is a cross between PJO and the DaVinci Code.” The latter made things more complicated because I happen to love Rick Riordan and Dan Brown’s works and I really hate to be disappointed. Fortunately, this book delivered. It may not be as brilliant as the Robert Langdon or the PJO series, it managed to hold on its own.
The story of The Forbidden Stone began when Wade and Darell received a strange coded message from their enigmatic uncle, Henry. After deciphering the message, weird things are suddenly happening and before they knew it, Wade, Darell, Roald (their father), Lily (their cousin) and Becca were already drag into a 500 year old guarded secret that might just be the undoing of the world. And they must hurry to ensure that the said secret–which has already claimed lives–will remain one forever.
I love that this book lived up to its blurb. Though the characters still need some polishing, I can’t deny the fact that they’re adorable. Wade and Darell are stepbrothers but they’re really close which is kind of rare in books these days because most authors would follow the other path wherein they pit step siblings against each other. Then we also have the two girls who were not the so-so heroines and actually contributed to solve and protect the mystery of The Forbidden Stone. Even the antagonists were believable and kudos to Tony Abbott for making the main villain a female.
The other thing that really made this book stood out from the rest is that both parents of the MCs are alive. And Wade and Darell’s father is even accompanying them in their adventure. Get that, pals? No missing parents and you get to see one of the parents playing a significant role in the whole story. And the relationship between the characters was really cute despite the fact that it still requires more growth and dynamicity. But I guess, the author really intended to do that so there’s plenty of space to elaborate the character relationships in the next 5 books.
The Forbidden Stone’s plot also stayed true to its premise. If you love Astronomy and unearthing its hidden secrets then this is the perfect book for you. But if you don’t, you will still love this because it has a lot of humor, fast paced with a lot of action, mind boggling puzzles and you get to travel from Texas-Germany-Paris-Rome-Guam hunting centuries old relics and understanding the movements of the stars. Plus, the author didn’t resort to info dumping when he explained the sci-fi elements of this book. Instead, he slowly walked me through this astronomy business giving me time to process all the new things that were thrown my way. Reading The Forbidden Stone was refreshing because the plot was intricately made which is phenomenal for an MG book. I mean, let’s face it, a lot of MG (except PJO and HP) and YA books are very simplistic and very predictable nowadays that it’s just so hard to be engrossed in a story anymore. But this one has managed to free itself from those books with haphazardly woven plots. It goes to show that Tony really did his assignment well.
My only issue with this book is that almost every chapter is told from a different character’s POV. I just wished that because this is the first book in a series, the author should have focused in telling the story from Wade or Darell’s POV first then gradually expand in the next sequels. That way, the readers have more time in getting to know the MCs really well and eventually rooting for them unconditionally. With the way this book is narrated, potential fans would end up confused about the the characters that they should root for.
To conclude, I’d certainly be on the lookout for the release of The Forbidden Stone’s sequel. The wait might be long but I know that it would be worth it. So if you’re looking for another series to follow, then don’t hesitate to pick up this one. The sci-fi elements, the travel around the world, the mystery of The Forbidden Stone and the characters will have you reeling with awesome.
***An ARC of this book was freely provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Katherine Tegen Books & Harper Collins!***