Sunday, March 21, 2021

Book Review: Charlie Thorne and the Lost City by Stuart Gibbs (Charlie Thorne #2)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Action and laughs
Cons: Charlie too perfect; for me, stance on evolution
The Bottom Line:
Charlie, Amazon
Darwin featured scientist
Plenty of action




Tracking Darwin Through the Amazon

When I learned that the scientist that inspired Charlie Thorne and the Lost City was Charles Darwin, I was concerned about how he would be handled.  As I expected, there were some aspects of the book that I didn’t care for, but I’m sure won’t bother most people.  On the whole, the book is enjoyable for the target middle grade audience.

It's been a few months since Charlotte “Charlie” Thorne has gone missing.  While she was initially presumed dead, she took advantage of the confusion of the situation to slip away.  She’s currently hiding out in the Galapagos Islands, which turns out to be very fortunate.  One day, she is approached by Esmerelda, a researcher from the Darwin Institute who thinks she’s found a message left behind by Charles Darwin almost 200 years ago.  Unfortunately, it’s in code, and Esmerelda needs Charlie to help her figure it out.  Suddenly, Charlie finds herself on another wild ride that will take her deep into the heart of the Amazon pursued by people out to get the treasure first.  But what did Darwin leave behind?

As a Christian, I don’t believe in macroevolution, which is different from the microevolution that Darwin clearly did document on his trip.  However, this book doesn’t differentiate between the two and labels people like me anti-science.  It was what I expected going into the book, but it still bothered me.

Setting that aside, I’m struggling to get into this series, which is surprising since I usually love Stuart Gibbs’s books.  Part of the problem is Charlie herself.  She is supposed to be a genius.  I get it.  But she comes across as just a little too perfect.  Fortunately, there are some supporting players who are a bit more realistic, but I do have to roll my eyes at some of Charlie’s exploits in the book.  I have a feeling that is me as an adult, and the target middle grade audience won’t mind as much.

We spend a lot of time traveling up the Amazon in this book, and it provides a bit of a sense of dread as the tension builds.  I appreciated how that built.  And I was reminded why the Amazon isn’t on my list of places to visit any time soon.  I enjoy nature in small doses, and it just sounds like it would be too intense for me.

If you buy into the complete premise of the book, the story is good.  There are some page turning action scenes and surprises along the way, which is exactly what you’d expect from Stuart Gibbs.  There are also some developments that set up future entries in the series, and I can’t wait to see where they lead.

And, of course, there’s the humor.  You have to laugh at some of the situations Charlie gets into and the banter between the characters.

I suspect most people will enjoy this book more than I did.  If you are a fan of Stuart Gibbs, pick up Charlie Thorne and the Lost City today.

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