The 39 Clues Book 5: The Black Circle by Patrick Carman

Location in Barnes and Noble:

I think kid’s but I always find it on a table either in the center aisle or right outside the B&N Jr section.

Why I read it:

I got hooked on the series when I wrote a paper about it for a technology and writing class I took a year ago in graduate school.


The books in this series are all entertaining, quick reads that fall somewhere in the borderlands between MG and YA. I’m far more addicted to this series than is perhaps reasonable for a person my age, but whatever. The books are never very long, they’re fairly self-contained though they do build on each other. Each incorporates some very unique history into the plot and everything which I think can be a good thing for kids. It makes history exciting in some weird way. My one beef with this particular book regards the fine line between not enough descriptive detail and just enough or too much descriptive detail. There’s a scene in the book where the two MCs, a brother and sister, are going to this monument in Russia called The Motherland Calls. It’s a memorial to a big battle in some war where a lot of Russians died. After reading the book, I looked it up on Wikipedia and discovered it was nothing at all like what I had pictured in my head when reading. As I read, I pictured a big square like Trafalgar or Leicester square in London, surrounded by buildings, with cobblestone-esque road beneath it. I pictured a reasonably sized statue of a woman with a serene face, perhaps with an outstretched arm.

This is what it looks like. It’s ginormous! And so nothing like what I’d pictured at all. That’s my beef with the book. Not enough description in one part.

Final review: Thumbs up. I’ll move past the nitpicky beef I had with it.