There is much that is good about this book. I am always thrilled when I see lit for young people showing how multiculturalism is a very good thing. This book goes one step beyond though. Each of the kids in spiritual in their own way and deeply involved in one of the world’s ancient major religions. The author has done a fantastic job of demonstrating that following the basic tenets of one religion doesn’t preclude respect for other religions and when stripped down to basic tenets, they are not so different. In today’s culture of extreme prejudice it is a welcome story line. I did have an issue with the name of the opposing organization, since it focused on only one of those religions. I felt that since we were dealing with an ancient cult, so to speak, that a more generalized term would have worked better.
The story is definitely unique and offered many interesting twists and turns as we followed the kids on their adventures around the world. Still, I think at times the author tried to add too much to the story. It may have benefited from being a series of books. There were story lines that could have used some expansion or explanation. For instance Shanti has an affinity with dogs, yet when the dogs are rescued she is outside. It was never fully explained why Helena’s experience was so much more tragic than the rest of the kids. By contrast Antonio would have seemed to on just be a fun vacation. Also, the plot line with Shanti’s teacher started beautifully and then just seemed to become nothing more than a convenient plot device that coincidentally tied together at the end with Helena’s godmother, who quite frankly seemed like she should played a greater part in the story as well the way she was set up in the beginning of Helena’s story.
For all that the story left me wanting for just a bit more, I really enjoyed reading it and sharing the adventures with these kids.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review