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The Colossus Rises (Seven Wonders #1), by Peter Lerangis
One morning, Jack McKinley is awakened by a red-headed, bearded giant belching outside his bedroom window. And that may be one of the strangest sentences I have ever written as a book reviewer.
This literal rude awakening begins what might be the most important day of Jack's life. While getting ready for school, Jack finds some white hairs on the back of his head. When he examines it more closely, he realizes that it is not just a few hairs, but an upside-down "V" of white hair.
His father is out of town on business, so Jack shoves a hat over the white hairs and heads for school. He never makes it to school. Instead, he passes out and awakens in the hospital. Jack comes to while he is being examined by a doctor he has never met. The red-headed giant comes into the room dressed as a priest. The doctor gives Jack a shot, and Jack loses consciousness. He wakes up in a strange place which turns out to be an island in an undisclosed location.
The man in charge of the island tells Jack that the island is the what is left of the lost continent of Atlantis. It is also home to the Karai Institute, something of a think tank dedicated to rediscovering the secrets of Atlantis. Descendants of the ruling family of Atlantis, which includes Jack, carry a recessive mutation that gives bearers the potential to allow them to perform at peak efficiency in a specific area. The children who are born with this mutation on both genes are able to tap into these superhuman abilities. However, only carriers ever reproduce, because those who have the mutation on both genes always die before their 14th birthday. Jack is 13, so he has less than a year to live unless the Karai Institute can find a way to save his life.
The Karai Institute is home to four children who have the gene -- Ally, who can fix anything; Cass, who is a human GPS; Marco, who has physical prowess beyond anything anyone has ever known; and Jack himself. What is Jack's superhuman talent? Jack has no idea. At first, neither do the experts at the Karai Institute. They do figure it out, though. Perhaps.
Needless to say, the series needs a villain, and in this case, that villain is, we are told, the Massa, who also are seeking the power of Atlantis for other, darker, reasons than the Karai Institute. Additionally, with a series title like "Seven Wonders" and the inclusion of the word "Colossus" in the title of this volume in particular should be a giveaway that the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are going to be a theme in this series. In this volume, the Wonder in question is the Colossus of Rhodes.
When I first started "Rise of the Colossus," I was less enthusiastic than I might have been. It seemed to take a long time for the book to really get going. However, once the plot started moving, I was hooked. I fell in love with the characters, and "The Rise of the Colossus" ended with a cliffhanger that has me waiting anxiously for the next book, which as I write this is due out in October of 2013. I have already asked the vendor's representative that serves our store to keep an eye peeled for it. I have to admit that as I started this book, I never expected to be this interested in the sequel.
Just a note about Lerangis: First, the liner notes of "The Colossus Rises" say that Lerangis has written over 160 books. This boggles my mind. I aspire to someday have written 160 book *reviews* and still have quite a ways to go on that goal. Second, Lerangis brings his experience rock-climbing during an earthquake to his readers through the kids of the Karai Institute, which I found very educational.
Update (February 17, 2015): Between here and the blog where I used to post my book reviews, I have posted 140 book reviews.