Title: The Colossus Rises
Author: Peter Lerangis
Jack was a fairly ordinary kid, until the day he collapsed. He wakes up in a strange place where he’s told he’s one of the Select, carrying a gene marker that will grant him extraordinary abilities—and kill him before he turns fourteen. Jack isn’t sure he trusts the people who claim to be helping him. He isn’t sure he believes the fantastical story they tell him. But one thing is for sure: life will never be the same.
Right from the beginning, the snappy prose and snarky voice create an engaging story. Jack has his talents, but he feels mostly normal, which is why it’s such a surprise to him to find out he’s supposed to be someone special. Compared to the three other kids he meets, he doesn’t see anything to brag about. Superior physical prowess, incredible memory and navigational skills, and the ability to hack into any system—so how do a few homemade inventions even compete? (And Jack’s skill is not, as I initially thought, the ability to build incredibly complicated contraptions to do various things; he’s just wired that way).
The ties to mythology take a while to surface, which makes the title a bit obscure until nearly the end. It mixes some original Atlantis myth plus the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, along with plenty of small puzzles and codes. The illustrations are an integral part of most of the puzzles, and readers can try to figure them out alone, or keep reading to find the answers Jack discovers.
I found the scientific angle a little disappointing. The professor, at least, is trying very hard not to say the m-word, when magic is clearly what’s going on. It’s one thing to say people don’t use 99% of their brains and imply extraordinary physical and mental prowess will result from using more of it; it’s another to try to wrap a sphere that makes people fly into some kind of explainable phenomena, while attributing that phenomena to an ancient civilization rather than an alien one. It also diminishes the supernatural angle to Jack’s experiences, which would have been fine without an attempt to explain them.
Overall, though, this is a story that sucked me in. With an obvious tie to the Seven Wonders, Jack will likely be off to the other six in future installments, so there’s plenty of room for more adventure. And, of course, there’s still the ticking time bomb of his condition. It ties up well, but it never hurts to have the second one on hand. I rate this book Recommended.