When Wade's "Uncle Henry" (his father's old college professor) dies suddenly, seemingly right after sending his father a mysterious coded message, Wade, his step-brother Darrell, cousin Lily, and friend Becca are swept up in a race against an ancient Order to figure out what exactly Copernicus – the Copernicus – was up to many long years ago. They follow clue after clue, but a mysterious young woman is hot on their heels…
This first book of Tony Abbott's Copernicus series (one of six, I believe) is filled with mystery and riddles and puzzles. Stars and constellations play a large part in the book, and naturally in the puzzles too. The action keeps you on your toes, urging the main cast of characters to keep going when the villains seem to be right behind.
Some parts of the story didn't seem very realistic, but the characters did. Wade, Becca, Lily, and Darrell all seemed to have their own personalities that could have been easily stereotyped, but Mr. Abbott makes them all unique. Lily seems at first to be the kind of girl who focused solely on her tablet, but she's smart and willingly uses her technology to help solve riddles. Dr. Kaplan, Wade's father, is with the kids for much of the trip, not leaving them by themselves except when he has to, so there is some form of adult supervision, making it a little more realistic.
There were a couple aspects that seemed almost unusual for a story, things not often seen in characters, which make them interesting. Wade and Darrell, step-brothers, get along quite well. There seems to be little strain on any relationship between step-(insert relation here), too. The villain has an unusual characteristic of heterochromia, two different eye colors. These unique twists on personality and appearance made me hooked within the first two chapters.
The antagonist, Galina Krause, is an interesting villain. She is intent on her purposes, and is quite willing to commit murder to achieve her ends, or to keep people silent. Her assistant desires to please her, but she is often hard to truly please, caring little for her employees and only for the objective at hand. Wade, as more or less the main protagonist of the four, is a star-smart boy, and he is affected, I felt, appropriately when bad things happened. He feels overwhelmed and discouraged. But when things start looking up again, I liked seeing the relief in him. Everything would be just fine now.
Violence/gore: A character is strangled to death, another is struck on the head, which bleeds, and a third is hit by a crossbow bolt. There are sounds of fighting, and a few fighting scenes, but it's very mild.
Profanity: Lily says "oh my gosh," and Dr. Kaplan starts to take God's name in vain.
Sexual content: Wade and Becca have to get up cheek to cheek to blow into an instrument to play notes.