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Cassidy Jones and Vulcan’s Gift: The Adventure Continues

Quite simply, I read the second in Elise Stokes’ series because I read the first.  I don’t understand how anyone could read Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula and be willing to just let the adventure drop.  It was one of those books were I reached the end and grieved.  The characters all seem so real that it’s like at the end they have all packed up, moved away, and are gone from your life forever.

Two out of two, so far, Stokes’ stories are consistently great, but for me the biggest attraction is falling in love with the characters.  Especially Cassidy.  I spent a decade doing adventure education with the Girl Scouts, and one of the tenets of that rather psychologically intensive pursuit is that the leader must be one of the group.  I used to tell to people that I got pretty good at being a 13-year-old girl.  Except for her super powers, Cassidy could be any of the hundred or so girlCassidy Jones and Vulcan's Gifts I took backpacking, caving, and rock climbing.  She is the real deal.

You take a character that you can hardly believe isn’t alive in the real world and place her in a story that rocks, and you can’t lose.

What’s more is that the novel isn’t a clone of the first.  Cassidy is still trying come to grips with her powers, but other than that, this is a whole new adventure.  There might be a little more Nancy Drew in this one, but it’s still all Stokes.  More importantly, has Cassidy at last met her match?  What is a superhero without a supervillain of the order of Doctor Octopus or Lex Luthor?

Vulcan’s Gift is a suit that gives its wearer super powers.  I’m not giving much away here because you can see it on the cover.  But these super powers are not simple ninja powers this time; they’re on par with Cassidy’s.  The climactic battle scene (there has to be one, right?) has the reader wondering if she’ll even survive this time.  And that’s on top of a tiger biting her in the neck!

Then, too, we see that Cassidy’s powers are changing.  Oh, what joy!  I’m sorry, but for some reason I can’t help reading Cassidy Jones like a physical biochemist.  For terminal geeks such as myself, speculating on the science can be almost as good as the plot.

Spoiler Inside: More comments on the science SelectShow

OK, so a lot of the science is questionable.  But Cassidy’s new mutation is more likely than Spiderman, and either one of these is more likely than Superman, and none of that prevents us from watching them over and over and over.  Then there are the Fantastic Four and the X-Men.  Cassidy is still more plausible than any of them.

Let me end this review with a comment about the end of the book.  If you’ve read many of my comments at other times, you’ll know I really hate those “shocker” endings.  You know, where they’ve killed the last of the flesh-eating zombies, then at the end you find that they’re infected, too?  That crap.  I argue that it’s a just a cover-up to hide the fact that the writer couldn’t think of a good ending, and I stand by that description.

Cassidy Jones and Vulcan’s Gift finishes with a different kind of shocker.  No, she isn’t really a zombie and there isn’t still one last xenomorph hiding under her bed.  It’s better than anything so trivial, just a little piece of information, but one that rocks you to the foundation of the Earth.  If you’re any kind of Cassidy fan, it’s:


If it doesn’t make you read the next book, friend, you’re already a zombie.



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