Greek Ransom

Greek Ransom

Author: Michael Malaghan

Publication: Anderson Press, 2008

Pages: 272

Overall Rating: bth_35_zps7a173504[1]                       

Rating for Action: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_5-star-rating_zps467d5332[1]

Age Category: 9-12

Brief Summary:  Callie and Nick are on vacation with their parents on the Greek Island of Thelta, but something isn’t right.  They wake up one night to find that their parents, both archaeologists, are gone.  They’re back the next morning, but their excuse is paper thin.  The next day, Callie overhears them talking about some major financial problems they’ve run into and their scheme to uncover the lost treasure of King Akanon.  Soon after that, her parents are kidnapped by local billionaire Georgiou Skatelios and Callie and Nick are running for their lives.  Skatelios wants an ancient map that will reveal the location of three keys required to open Akanon’s treasure vault.   Nick and Callie have the map and he’ll kill them to get it.  The race is on.  Can Nick and Callie evade Skatelios’ men, find the keys, and rescue their parents, or is death waiting for them around the next bend in the road?

Age of Main Character: 15

What I Liked the Most: The book has an addictive pace.  The action is nonstop, with Callie and Nick facing one death-defying situation after another.  Once you get into it, the book is very hard to put down.

Malaghan does a nice job providing the genuine flavor of a Greek island, with sun baked tourists, tavernas, fishing boats, plenty of ruins, and tons of traditional Greek foods for the kids to eat when they get hungry.   It made for a nice escape – the perfect book to read in the middle of winter, when you just want to imagine a sunny island filled with danger and adventure.

Callie is a smart, kick-ass heroine who overcomes her fears and shows incredible courage and intelligence as she outwits Skatelios and his goons.  And she does it all without resorting to violence.

What I Liked the Least: Put simply, the first chapter was BAD.  I almost stopped reading after the first few pages – actually, I almost stopped several times and it took a real effort to get me to page 15 or 20, which was when things seemed to smooth out and I began getting into the story.  The first page of the book really made no sense.  In it Callie drowns, and then starting on page two it’s a year later and she’s alive and well.  It’s not until much further on in the book that you get an explanation for what happened on page one, and it turns out to be important.  But in reality, I think Malaghan just wanted to start things off with a bang, so he put that scene at the start of the book to get things rolling before stepping back to set up the plot and characters.  Only it didn’t work.  It just left me confused, wondering if it was all a dream, how Callie had survived, and why that scene was there in the first place.

Malaghan is way too addicted to exclamation points!  They’re everywhere!!!  Often two or three times per page!!

Some things in the book just didn’t work.  I’ve got no problem with two teens solving ancient historical mysteries that have baffled people for 3,000 years.  That’s just good fun.  But some of the scenes here really strained the bounds of credibility even for this genre.  In one scene in particular, Nick and Callie arrive at the site where one of the keys should be to find nothing but a barren field, when the clues on the map tell them there should be a maze.  They’re lost, with no idea what to do, when after 30 minutes an earthquake hits and opens up a hole in the ground, revealing an ancient tomb that’s been hidden for 3,000 years.  Now what’s up with that?  This tomb has remained hidden for eons.  I’d have no problem with them finding it through smarts and deduction – the same way they find all the other keys – but an earthquake?  That just doesn’t work.

How Good was the Action?  The action here is non-stop and well written.  There are plenty of edge-of-your-seat moments when it seems like there’s no way out for Callie and Nick.  And Malaghan does a good job with his villains, giving each of Skatelios’ goons some individual personality traits to make them both more human and more frightening.

Malaghan provides a good mix of summarization and blow-by-blow action in his scenes that really keeps the story humming along, and there are some keys points where he does a great job of delving into Callie’s emotional state during the action and showing how much she has to struggle to overcome her fears.

Finally, Malaghan does a decent job of mixing action with light-hearted banter to break things up.  Though I will say that Callie and Nick do seem to spend a little too much time grinning at one another in the middle of otherwise terrifying situations.

How Engaging was the Story?  Greek Ransom is engaging mostly because of the action, not the character depth and relationships.  It’s a shallow book, driven by plot, with one death-defying scene piled on top of another.   If that appeals to you then you’ll have a great and very addictive read.  But if you’re in the mood for characters, relationships, and intrigue than you’ll likely find this book boring.     

Overall Assessment: If you can get past the first chapter or two, Greek Ransom is an addictive, if rather shallow, adventure story.  It can be a fun, page turning read with some great island scenery.  You just have to be willing to suspend all disbelief and allow for even the most unlikely of coincidences.  That said, if you want non-stop action and swashbuckling adventure this makes for a pretty entertaining book.

Profanity: None

Sex: None

Violence: Very little.  There’s plenty of danger.  Nick and Callie get shot at, chased by dogs and helicopters, and almost drown.   But for all that there are very few scenes of real violence and there’s no blood to speak of.  This is a swashbuckling adventure, not a gory fight.

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