The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch (Secret # 1)
I know I said that this book is an easy read and that I should be finished with it 3 days ago, but then due to some unwanted circumstances, I was only able to finish it a while ago. The past 3 days, I have been busy with my scholarship renewal, enrollment for the second semester, and attending the funeral of my deceased friend. On top of that, I managed to acquire fever and colds yesterday, which is a very great way to end my sembreak. Not. Anyways, here goes my review for the first book in the Secret series, which is was overdue.
Based on the book’s rule, I am putting my life in grave danger telling you what it is all about. For the story holds a Secret that we must keep hushed in order to prevent others from using it for greater evil. So I trust you to save me the trouble and keep whatever you will read about to yourselves for our own sake.
So the story starts with two eleven-year-old kids, Cass and Max-Earnest. The two are what some others may describe as weirdos due to their peculiar traits. But these two kids are important for they are vital in keeping the Secret safe and saving lives of people involved.
Cassandra calls herself a survivalist. Every day, she goes to school wearing her trust backpack loaded with the equipment she believes are needed for every kind of calamity or danger. Aside from that, Cass believes that she can predict whenever bad things will happen, but she was yet to prove her “sight” to everyone in school. To her classmates, she is the “girl who cried wolf”.
Max-Earnest. A quirky name. But there is a good story about how it came to be. But I fear that I am not fit to be the one to share it. Read the book and let the narrator relay it to you. Aside from the name, Max-Earnest tend to talk a lot. Yes, somehow, a period doesn’t work for him as his words pours continuously straight from his head. Max-Earnest also has the habit of telling everyone a joke the no one seem to find funny. And for the kids around him, this is annoying to the point of irritating.
The two were brought together when Cass found the Symphony of Smells, a box filled with different vials of herbs and whatever containing various of scents, at her grandfathers’ shop. Apparently, the Symphony of Smells is one of the things left by a magician who disappeared after being burnt inside his house, leaving nothing but the smell of sulfur like rotten eggs.
And so the adventure begins as Cass and Max-Earnest unearth the secrets involved in the mystery of this magician’s death. Aside from the Symphony of Smells, they also found Pietro’s, the magician, notebook. In it they learned more about his story of magic and amazing power of the senses. They started on a quest to find out more about the peculiar Ms. Mauvais and Dr. L who began pursuing them since they discovered the Symphony of Smells. What did these two want from the box and why do they desperately want to know Pietro’s story? Will Cass and Max-Earnest be able to prevent their evil plan in order to save one of their friends from the hands of Ms. Mauvais and Dr. L?
I have been seeing this book series displayed at the children’s section every time I go into a bookstore. I had to admit, the colorful cover and mysterious title made me curious enough to buy the first book. I guess I can say that it was worth it. From the first few pages, with the author giving us visual illustrations of warning before reading the book to the last pages of reminders for the sequel, I was hooked.
I particularly enjoyed the type of narration as it was directed to the readers, like casually talking to the narrator. It was also hilarious as the narrator was very reluctant to share any information that might give away any details that would let us find the whereabouts of the story or recognize the characters in person. Despite the hesitation, the narrator ultimately failed to do so for the readers would not be able to know the story without getting some details. I think that made the story very worth reading, the yearning to know about the Secret more.
Aside from the narrator, I also loved the adventures itself. I have to admit though, that I was quite disappointed with the lack of magical stuff in the story. Being a Harry Potter fan, I have a very high expectation when it comes to magic, spells, and mystery. I guess I was just really desperate to find another series that could match the brilliance of Harry Potter.
But then again, this book is different in a sense that it focuses on alchemy and the phenomenon known as synesthesia. Synesthesia is, in truth, a neurological condition in which a stimulation of one sense, hearing for example, will entice a simultaneous stimulation of another sense, for example taste. One with this condition may read words but instead see different colors as an interpretation. And this is the central theme of the story. The kids were trying to save a friend who has synethesia from the hands of Ms. Mauvias and Dr. L. This, I think, is the magical part of the story.
What really made me love the book is the brain teasers and codes it gives. Along the way, Cass and Max-Earnest is presented with codes they needed to break and answer. I find it very amusing and I, myself, tried decoding the riddles. In fairness, I did a good job. I was also able to predict some of the events that would happen and that wasn’t very good for me. A good mystery book would be something surprising and this one was a bit predictable. Of course, I don’t have the right to give my conclusions since this is just the first book in the series. But I assure you that I have a great interest in reading the next book.
I will give this book a 4/5. I recommend this series for fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Mysterious Benedict Society. It was a very easy read intended for adventurous kids and explorers, alike.