Books & Literature

Book Review: Prometheus High: The Books of The Dead, by Stuart Wilson

MIDDLE GRADE: All aboard the airship Atet and full steam towards the ancient pyramids of Giza in the second hugely inventive, action-packed, fun and quirky – and occasionally dark – adventure in the Prometheus High series!

The exciting second instalment in the Prometheus High series.

Feature image credit: Penguin Books Australia

The second book in the Prometheus High series, The Books of The Dead, follows on nicely from How To Make a Monster, picking up at the beginning of Athena Strange’s second semester at Prometheus High. There is little to no backtracking to catch up the reader on the events of the first book, so reading Book 1 is a must. Impressively, Stuart Wilson manages to find a plausible reason for the school to relocate from the run-down cruise ship that set the stage for the first book to a zeppelin hovering above the Pyramids of Giza, where the students of Prometheus High learn to bring mummies to life.

Like Book 1, this book is a little gory, a little funny, and a lot exciting, beginning with a rooftop chase and only getting more and more dangerous. The story manages to pack in even more death-defying moments than the first book, raising the stakes from “we might get expelled” to “we will probably die doing this.” Also like Book 1, this is aimed well for the preteen age group, and is refreshingly neither “girly” nor a “boys” book; rather, it is an exciting story for children of all genders.

While still keeping the spotlight on Athena and Godfrey, this book also centres more around Marceline, a secondary character from Book 1, and her mysterious origins. Building on information revealed about Marceline in Book 1, much of Athena and Marceline’s time is spent trying to uncover secrets about Marceline’s past. Moving the spotlight to this character for Book 2 was a good move — she is a character with a lot of complex motivations that cause her to behave differently to the other students in a lot of situations, and I’m certain she will be heavily featured in future books in this series. Godfrey also gets more of his own moments in this book, having to deal with some ethical dilemmas of his own while racing around in his “hexapod”: the ingenious six-legged machine he built in Book 1 to replace his wheelchair. The different ways these three characters, with their very different personalities, deal with their problems is written well, their motivations and fears coming through strongly in their decisions.

This may be a personal taste thing, but one thing that made this story a little difficult to follow at times was the high number of sentence fragments used. While in some places it added to the suspense and drama of a scene, there were other times where it simply seemed like poor editing, taking me out of the scene and forcing me to reread the paragraph to make sense of it. Instead of adding to the pacing, some of these sentence fragments detracted from it. However, it is something that may not bother others the way it bugged me.

Without giving away spoilers, towards the end of the book there were some questions raised around the afterlife of people who have been mummified, as well as further development of Marceline’s story, that were not answered in Book 2. One can only hope that we aren’t kept in suspense too long before Book 3 is released!

Reviewed by Kristin Stefanoff

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily of Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: August 2022
RRP: $16.99

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