Saturday, February 21, 2015

ARC Review: The Secret Cipher by Whitaker Ringwald

The Secret Cipher
Author: Whitaker Ringwald
Series: Secret Box (Book 2)
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (February 24, 2015)

Description: The Secret Cipher is the sequel to The Secret Box, a rollicking adventure full of family rivalry, magic, questing, and laugh-out-loud humor that's perfect for fans of Dan Gutman, Wendy Mass, and Trenton Lee Stewart.

Jax Malone and her cousin Ethan Hoche were not expecting one of Jax's birthday presents to contain a dangerous magical object from a mythical past: an urn with the dark power to suck hope out of the world.

Though the first urn is safely hidden, there are two more urns that could rid humanity of both faith and love. And powerful enemies who want to find them and use them to control the world. Now, even though they were never meant to open the present and discover its secret, Jax and Ethan must race to find and destroy the two remaining urns before it's too late.

My Thoughts: Jax, Ethan, and Tyler return in a second adventure. Since they returned the urn of hope to their great-aunt, things have been quiet. But then a mysterious girl shows up at a comic book store where Tyler in taking part in a tournament, they get a phone call that an unidentified woman had a stroke and had Jax's phone number on her, and Jax gets emails from the father she has never met.

The kids learn that the urn they found was one of three and an evil genius named Ricardo wants to gather them all so that he can rule the world. They need to find the other urns before he does. Searching for it takes them to a comic book convention complete with Klingons and a myriad of other costumed characters.

Like the first book, this book is also told in alternate chapters by Jax and Ethan. But this time, Tyler gets a couple chapters too. All of the characters reveal themselves in their chapters. I have to admit that I have a soft spot in my heart for Ethan who is cautious, shy, and anxiety-ridden. I like the way he tries to be the voice of reason between fantasy-obsessed Tyler and hyperactive Jax.

The story is fast-paced and inserts just the right amount of mythology for a middle grade audience. My only complaint is that the ending is a major cliffhanger and now I have to wait for the next book.

Favorite Quote:
"I have no idea," Jax said. "But we'll figure it out. You ready to do this, Batman?"

I felt like we were about to jump off a bridge without a bungee cord. I tugged on my mask. "No."

She smiled. "That's the spirit. Let's go get our hope-sucking urn back."
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

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