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“So there are ants out here with the most painful sting imaginable and giant snakes and man-eating piranhas and tiny fish that can swim into your private parts and consume you from the inside. Is there anything else completely horrifying that I should know about?” Dante. –Charlie Thorne and the Lost City
Charlie Thorne and the Lost City
Charlie Thorne #2
by Stuart Gibbs
AR Test, Strong Female Character
Charlie Thorne is a genius. Charlie Thorne is a fugitive. Charlie Thorne isn’t even thirteen.
After finding Einstein’s last equation and going incognito, Charlie’s ready to take it easy in the Galapagos Islands. That is until she’s approached by the mysterious Esmerelda Castle, who’s on the hunt for a legendary treasure and has a code only Charlie can decipher.
In 1835, Charles Darwin diverted the HMS Beagle’s journey to go on a secret solo expedition in South America. When he returned to the ship, he carried a treasure that inspired awe and terror in his crew. And so the treasure vanished, never to be seen again. . . but Darwin left a trail of clues behind for those brave and clever enough to search for it once more.
In a daring adventure that takes her across South America, Charlie must crack Darwin’s nearly two-hundred-year-old clues to track down the mysterious discovery—and stay ahead of the formidable lineup of enemies and CIA agents who are hot on her trail.
In an epic Amazonian adventure, Charlie teams up with Milana and Dante as they try to solve the clues and find Darwin’s “treasure.” They must outmaneuver the Castellos siblings who have teamed up with a Russian spy. The groups try to outsmart each other and the bad guys are willing to use any means necessary to find the treasure. The fast-paced action will have readers at the edge of their seats as they try to guess who will betray who.
Even though Charlie and the others are trying to decipher Darwin’s clues, these messages take a back seat to the story’s action. However, readers will gain insight into some of the Amazon’s plight including the loss of habitat. But the real treasure in Charlie Thorne and the Lost City is the introduction to the Amazon’s flora and fauna. Another interesting aspect of the story is when the group finds a creature that would prove that evolution is a fact. While some believe that the creature should be introduced to society, Charlie believes that the only way to keep the creature safe is to keep its existence a secret.
Middle school readers who are ready for a more realistic mystery that has cruel villains will enjoy Charlie Thorne and the Lost City. While most of the action revolves around Charlie being chased, the villains make it clear that they will kill anyone who stands in their way. The story also explores the idea of evolution. Fans of the Theodore Boone Series by John Grisham will enjoy Charlie’s winding trip through the Amazon and her courage to do what is best for the creatures that remain hidden deep within the Amazon’s depths.
- Dante took Charlie’s advice and “kissed Milana Moon.”
- When a strange man and police appear looking for Charlie, she sets a booby trap so she can escape. “The resulting explosion blew the policeman off his feet, throwing him across the tiny kitchen. The cabinets all burst open spilling glass and plates, which shatter on the floor.” No one is seriously injured, but one policeman’s “eyebrows had been scorched off his face.”
- While looking for Charlie, Ivan goes to the Darwin research facility to question an employee. When he doesn’t get the answers he wants, Ivan “spun Luis around, wrenching the young man’s arm behind his back so that he cried out in pain.”
- Charlie attempts to get out of town unnoticed but Ivan gives chase. Ivan “clipped two cars and sent them skidding. More cars crashed into those, and a terrific jam blossomed instantly.”
- There is a multi-chapter chase where Charlie’s group tries to avoid being killed by Esmerelda and her brothers. By plane, Esmerelda and her brothers follow Charlie into the Amazon. Esmerelda’s “brothers’ bullets only hit the water. Gianni got caught up in the excitement and lobbed a stick of dynamite as well. . . The blast had been close enough that she, Dante, and Milana had been soaked by the plume of water.”
- Trying to avoid being shot, Dante was “weaving back and forth across the river. . . Milana had her gun out, ready to fire on the approaching plane.” Milana’s bullet “caught the guy on the pontoon in the arm, making him drop the machine gun, which plunked in the river.” During the chase, Milana is hit with “a piece of red-hot shrapnel” but is not injured badly.
- Charlie swims to a barge and sets a trap. “As Esmerelda approached the barge, Gianni took the remaining submachine gun, stepped out onto the pontoon, and prepared to shoot. . . Charlie ran as fast as she could while the plane closed in on her. Gianni opened fire. Bullets sparked off the metal skins of the oil tank. . . And then the world erupted into flame.”
- The tanker explodes. Esmerelda’s “plane was directly above the first tanker when it blew apart like an enormous firecracker. The blast tossed the plane like a toy, while a ball of fire and smoke enveloped it. . .” The plane catches fire. “Esmerelda and her brothers leapt from it, their clothes on fire too. Just after they dove into the water, the plane blew up.” Everyone survives, but Esmerelda and her brothers are “badly burned.”
- Esmerelda and her brothers join Ivan, a Russian spy. Ivan holds Charlie, Milana and Dante at gunpoint. In order to escape, Dante and Milana “targeted the Castellos first. . . Dante and Milana made quick work of them.” Charlie runs.
- Milana, Dante, and Charlie try to escape the bad guys in a multi-chapter chase. Each group is trying to capture a creature. Someone shoots the creature, who “shrieked in pain and tumbled across the wet ground, then rolled back to its feet and scampered away into the cover of the rain. . .”
- After someone shoots a creature, its friends attack. “Then the creatures’ assault was quick and well coordinated. And while their weapons were rudimentary, only rocks and sticks, they wielded them with terrifying skill.” The man shoots and hits a creature. “It crumpled into the mud, whimpering in pain.”
- Charlie helps a creature. “It was bleeding from it’s leg where Oz’s bullet had struck it and was in obvious pain.”
- Someone shoots Dante. “Dante turned to see who had shot him, but his vision was already going blurry. His mind was clouding. His strength was ebbing.”
- A snake attacks one of Esmeralda’s brothers. “It moved with startling speed for such a big creature, first sinking its teeth into Gianni’s torso and then coiling around him. . . He was certainly hurting now—and he was terrified.” When Gianni’s brother tries to help, “the snake responded by wrapping its tail end around Paolo as well.”
- Esmerelda sees her brothers. “The anaconda had already killed them both. Gianni’s body was floating facedown in the creek, while the giant snake was actually consuming Paolo. It had unhinged its jaw and begun the long process of swallowing her brother headfirst.”
- Ivan and Esmerelda capture Charlie. In order to escape, Charlie throws a bullet ant at them. “Ivan felt the sting first. . . It felt as though every nerve ending in his body had suddenly caught fire. It was so intense that it leveled him. . . Esmerelda went down next. . . She sank to the floor as well, gripped by convulsions.
- Charlie and Esmerelda fight. “Charlie intercepted her attack, catching Esmerelda’s arms in her hands. She used her fingernails as a weapon like Milana had told her, digging them deep into Esmerelda’s skin. . .” Charlie had put poison on her nails.
- Esmerelda “lunged for Charlie with the knife. . . [A creature] slammed into Esmerelda, sending her reeling backward into the cockpit. . .” Charlie escaped but Esmerelda and “the helicopter plummeted into the gorge, crashed into the river. . . and exploded in a ball of fire.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- While in America, Ivan, a Russian spy, helped support the illegal drug trade.
- While at a lodge, “The adults were drinking beer” and Dante “had brought another beer back to the room from the bar.”
- Someone shoots Dante and Milana with a tranquilizer dart.
- After an expedition into the Amazon, Milana and Dante finally make it back to civilization and they both have a beer.
- Darwin makes an incredible discovery, but others think it is “an affront to God.”
- When a group of creatures attack, they chase a man. “He had to get away from the ones that were chasing him and pray that there weren’t others ahead.”