2 stars · 2013 · fiction · mg · mystery

review; samantha sutton and the labyrinth of lies

Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies (Samantha Sutton #1)
Author: Jordan Jacobs
Pub. Date: October 1, 2012
Source: Publisher (Thank you, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky!!)
Summary: A legendary ghost, an ancient treasure, a mystery only Samantha Sutton can solve.

What happens when Indiana Jones meets Nancy Drew? You get Samantha Sutton, twelve year-old archeology buff with sharp wit and an insatiably curious personality. SAMANTHA SUTTON AND THE LABYRINTH OF LIES is the incredible page-turner about a young girl from California who is given the chance to follow her archeologist uncle to the excavation of an ancient Peruvian temple.

What she doesn’t expect, though, is the legend haunting this ancient site. When important artifacts begin to disappear overnight, Samantha must navigate the disapproving eye of her uncle’s acerbic assistant, the bungling boyishness of her annoying big brother, and the ever-present stories swirling among the locals of the hysterical spirit that wanders through the town late at night. Using her keen sensibility and her knack for mapping the unknown passageways of Chavín de Huántar, Samantha uncovers a mystery far bigger than she could have ever imagined.
Genre: MG, Fiction, Mystery

“There was one artifact on display there…a chess piece found under Ivy Street not far from my home. I remember thinking – a person used this. Not because they had to, or because they thought we would find it one day, but just to bring some amusement or comfort to their lives. It just makes me feel like we’re all the same: all people, no matter where we live. Or when.”

Just like every other 10-year old I had dreams of becoming a famous adventurer and discovering ancient treasures. My interest focused more on dinosaurs than pottery and I can still rattle off name after name of prehistoric creatures. When I first heard about Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies I knew that was a book for me. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be.

Samantha Sutton, a 12-year old aspiring archaeologist, managed to convince her parents to allow her to spend the summer with her Uncle Jay on an excavation of an ancient Peruvian village. Sam’s older brother Evan was sent along much to the siblings’ dismay. Evan would rather play his video games or flirt with girls than spend the entire summer brushing dust off bits of clay dishes.

This novel houses a full cast of characters and they were all wonderfully developed. That said, I would have loved to have seen more of certain characters (Stuart for instance – Samantha wasn’t the only one intrigued by his Scottish accent!). Also, it’s apparent right from the start that Adam is up to something and his fierce animosity toward a 12-year old girl is so bewildering.

Lately I’ve been finished novels in a day or two. With Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies, I took nearly a week (& that surprised me; it felt MUCH longer). For a Middle Grade novel, I was shocked by how dense the writing was. Yes there’s excitement and danger, but it was so slow in the making. A large part of my disappointment in the novel lies with its pace. A quicker story would have made for a far more enjoyable novel, but I suppose the life of an archaeologist isn’t as glamorous as the movies make it seem.

I loved all the Spanish that was sprinkled throughout the dialogue. I was delighted to discover I’ve remembered quite a bit of what I learned in high school! What I didn’t understand only made me relate to Samantha: she doesn’t speak a word of the language and more often than not, finds herself utterly lost in conversations.

By the time the identity of El Loco was revealed, I had completely forgotten all about that character. Sadly, this was an instance where the Bad Guy was a character briefly introduced in the beginning of the story and wasn’t heard from again until the Big Reveal.

For it’s Middle Grade label, I was surprised by the amount of drug use and violence that made its way into the book. Despite my expectations, in the end, I was reading just to finish. Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies wasn’t for me, but it seems I’m in the minority with my rating. The sequel, Samantha Sutton and the Stronghold of the Warrior Queen comes out later this year and it sounds like it’ll be more up my alley. :)


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