The 39 Clues: The Emperor’s Code (Book 8) by Gordon Korman

When their grandmother Grace dies, orphans Amy and Dan accept a challenge to search for 39 clues that could make them the most powerful people in the world. But they aren’t the only ones looking. Other Cahills, more ruthless, wealthy, and powerful than them, have taken the challenge too and they are not willing to let a pair of poor kids beat them. In book 8, still reeling from what they have learned, Amy begins doubting her parents. She and Dan get into a fight and, for the first time since the series began, they are separated for the vast majority of the book. can they find each other in China, the most crowded country in the world?

For the first time in a while, we see Jonah Wizard again (and meet his mother) and for the first time, we get a little depth and growth to his character. We even have a moment of sympathy for his father, who is rarely seen doing anything but typing on his blackberry and catering to his famous popstar son. Even with these new insights, this is not my favorite family of the Cahill clan. It seems like a preposterous plan to have only a popstar searching for the clues rather than another person from the branch (he comes from the Janus branch of the Cahill family) who would be less conspicuous to break into places when needed.

We learn more about everyone’s characters in this book, from Dan and Amy’s relationship, to the truth about Nellie, to Jonah and his family. This isn’t my favorite book of the series (mostly because the Mount Everest sequence seemed completely unbelievable) but it was nice to really focus on characterization and growth, which was greatly lacking in the last book.


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