Any review of this book is bound to make mention of Indiana Jones, so let me get it out of the way. This book is Indiana Jones for modern kids – and that’s a great thing! Tombs, treasure and villains are all very Jones-ish, however this tomb-robbing adventure is very much a 21st century one, with high-tech spy gadgets galore.
Jake Atlas and his family embark somewhat gloomily on a trip to Egypt. His mother and father are their usual quiet and dull selves – which is a little strange considering they are Egyptology professors headed for their place of expertise. His Goth twin sister Pan is disdainfully silent, and Jake… well Jake just can’t seem to help causing trouble. This time though, the trouble immerses his whole family in an extraordinary adventure and turns their lives upside down.
Things begin to look up once they arrive in Cairo; mum seems to come alive, there is a spark in her eyes and even Pan can’t quite hide her interest in the ancient city. It may just be that this trip will help bring the family closer which is what Jake is hoping for. And it certainly does, but not in the way he thinks.
With their parents kidnapped, Jake and Pan are pulled into a new world of treasure hunting and tomb-raiding. Each brings their own unique skills to unravel clues and try to stay one step ahead of their dangerous rivals in order to save their parents. As they escape one tricky situation after another they edge closer to uncovering a huge secret. Pan’s clever brain and knowledge combined with Jake’s skill at on the spot problem solving sees them bonding and working as a team and embracing their special talents.
The plot moves along at a great pace, filled with action, fast-thinking get-aways, narrow escapes and surprises at every turn; the characters are kept on their toes and the readers are kept entertained and wondering what will happen next.
The author notes reveal that Rob Lloyd Jones studied Egyptology and archaeology, and this interest shines through his writing, with just the right amount of interesting and relevant facts about ancient Egyptian customs and culture blending into the story subtly and without an information overload. The book remains an adventure story without turning into a wordy textbook, and is done so well, that I found myself wanting to climb the pyramids and sail down the Nile. I hope there are more Jake Atlas adventures in tomb-raiding to come – Dr Jones would definitely approve.
Reviewed by Vanessa Hatley-Owen
Jake Atlas and the Tomb of the Emerald Snake
by Rob Lloyd Jones
Walker Books UK, 2017