Dead Chest Island: The Secrets Begin, Volume 1

Book: Dead Chest Island: The Secrets Begin, Volume 1
Author: J. J. Parsons
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014
ISBN-13: 978-1494329136
ISBN-10: 1494329131
Related website: (series)
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
Disclosure: Any books donated for review purposes are in turn donated to a library. No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.
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Parsons, J. J. Dead Chest Island: The Secrets Begin, Volume 1 (published in 2014 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform). What would you do if you thought you had come across some spies? It is around 1954, during the days of the Cold War with the old Soviet Union, and young Edison Jones is visiting a tropical Caribbean island, perhaps one of the U. S. Virgin Islands, with his parents and older sister Charlotte. His father, Dr. Jones, is there ostensibly to help close down a World War II era submarine base. At the airport, a man drops a pen, but before Edison can get it to him he disappears in the crowd. Later Edison meets a new friend Jonathan, whose parents work at the hotel where the Joneses are staying, and when Jonathan asks to use the pen, they find out that it’s actually a little camera. Jonathan’s grandfather is a photographer, so the two boys go to him to develop the pictures.

The pictures turn out to be photos of the submarine base, but while waiting for them to develop, Jonathan’s grandfather tells a curious tale of pirates and a cabin boy, Jonathan’s great great great granddaddy Samuel, who was swept into an underwater tunnel on Dead Chest Island. Is the tunnel really there and where does it lead? On the way back to the hotel, Jonathan and Edison decide to take a borrowed boat to Dead Chest Island and see for themselves. Charlotte is a last-minute participant. They hope to make it home by supper, but the boat’s motor sputters and dies, triggering an amazing chain of events that involve being stranded on a deserted island, an earthquake, Russian spies, a treacherous tidal wave, shadowy dolphinbots, puzzling petroglyphs, a mysterious crystal, and an American military secret. Will the kids make it home? Will they even survive?

While it can be enjoyed by anyone, with its exciting plot, fast-moving action, and short chapters, this book is perfect for “reluctant” readers who like lots of adventure, but maybe aren’t quite ready for a 400+ page book, yet don’t want a “kidified” book with pictures. Author J. J. Parsons has also tried to sprinkle some real-world bits of knowledge about the “secrets” of science and the “magic” of technology into the story so that the reading experience can be educational as well as entertaining. There is a section in the back which explains the background behind some of the concepts and terms found in the book. There is nothing objectionable, just a few common euphemisms (heck, drat, blasted) and one instance where a marine “said a bad word” (I for one certainly appreciate the fact that the actual “bad word” is not used). Dead Chest Island is Book 1 of “The Secrets Begin” series. In Book 2, Dark Signal Mountain, Charlotte wants to find her missing necklace made of the mysterious crystals, and Book 3, Storm Glass Bay, is about an unusual glass globe that drops through a waterspout.

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