SUMMARY -Fernando of Melodia, owner in part of the Domus Quintilla hotel in Rome, has made a huge mistake. He came to the airport, expecting to pick up a French woman and her daughter to transport them to the hotel - but now three other families are all saying they booked the same room for the same night! Fernando's daughter, Elettra, makes room for the foreign children in her own room - Sheng from China, Mistral from France, and Harvey from America. Things seem to go smoothly until the children discover they all have something extraordinary in common. When they are given a briefcase by a man who is clearly in trouble - and later killed - the four children team up to discover what this briefcase is about, before another murder is committed.
MY THOUGHTS -
There are books out there that are childish but timeless. Childish in the manner of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, or in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. These books are not rare, but they are not easy to come by, either. If you think I'm going to say that Ring of Fire falls into this small category, you will have to forgive me - I will say no such thing. I wish it wasn't so - I really wanted to love this book - but it fell short in a lot of areas.
In the end, I just skimmed. How sad. I don't feel remorseful at all.
CHARACTER NOTES -Elettra was a really neat character, I'll give her that. Sharp, witty, kind, and willing to work hard. My only problem? She seemed a bit too sharp. Like, too smart and knowledgeable and trained for a 12-year-old. Slightly unbelievable, don't you think?
The other children were just...meh. Harvey - serious in an unrealistic too-mature-for-an-American-teen-his-age. Sheng - I found him quite stupid (while he tried to be funny). You'd think he'd start babbling off in Chinese every once in a while in his nervousness or fear; but no, the only Chinese he ever said was, "Hao"...for everything. And Mistral - just flat.
Jacob Mahler, the villain, wasn't near enough spooky or intimidating or nasty mean. Based on his description (he carries a violin that entices people when played and makes them fall asleep; it also turns into a weapon from a horror film) you'd think he'd be amazing. But no. I mean, maybe the point-blank writing style takes away the mystery and excitement.
STORY NOTES -Too easy. Waaaay too easy. Maybe not to the typical 11-year-old who hasn't had a full taste of the world and good literature yet. But to an adult who has read nearly 500 books and who has written a few (drafts) - just, stop, ok? No more. I can't take how easy it is. There are no disappointments, setbacks, or frustrations. Even for a children's book, that's just not very good story-telling.
There was one scene in the very middle that struck me as really cool, but it was the only scene. The children are searching a professor's house and they discover something very interesting about it - and it turns into something intense and - stops. Things lull. Holes form. Beatrice suddenly gets a whim to save the girl. Why was she here in the first place? You know what, nevermind, I don't care.
SUMMING IT UP -A lull of boringness. Oh, my sister, how I wish I could have liked it. I'm sorry - I really tried.
Nothing For the Parents. 10+
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