Cassidy Jones and Vulcan’s Gift, by Elise Stokes, 2011, Book Review

cassidy jones vulcanI’m excited to be in on the release of Elise Stokes’ second novel, Cassidy Jones and Vulcan’s Gift. This fast-paced series is reminiscent of the adventures of comic book superheroes, except Cassidy Jones happens to be a totally hip, totally stubborn, totally modern fifteen-year-old girl. A freak accident left her with enhanced senses and superhuman strength that she struggles mightily to adjust to. She may be saving the Seattle suburbs by night, but by day she must try to fit into Queen Anne High School, navigate those tricky guy-girl relationships, and make sure none of her friends figure out her secret. Such a rumor whispered to the wrong individual would put her loved ones at serious risk.

In Vulcan’s Gift, a top-secret weapon leftover from Nazi German, long considered a myth, surfaces on Catamount Mountain. It’s up to Cassidy and her brilliant sidekick, Emery, to figure out and muscle down this new threat. Throw in a missing Siberian tiger, multiple Sasquatch sightings (not to mention the gaggle of faithful Sasquatch followers), family wealth, and a shiny new villain, and you have the recipe for a teen-pleasing page-turner.

Let’s backtrack to Emery for a moment. Son of the scientist connected to Cassidy’s enhancement, Emery has some impressive credentials of his own. At age fifteen, he’s already earned a college degree and put off graduate school to guard and guide Cassidy. Unrealistic? Of course! As you recall, we’re talking comic book superheroes here. Anyway, Emery is light years ahead of the pack in maturity and intellect, and his perfection can get downright obnoxious. Yet, there’s a warmth and genuine affection to his character that makes me hope Cassidy will finally be done with her high school crush, Jared, once and for all. Aside from Cassidy and her wonderful physical dilemma, Emery is by far the most complex character of the series.

There are many things I appreciate about Vulcan’s Gift, not the least of which is Ms. Stokes’ polished writing style. While it isn’t poetic or abundant in creative word pictures (which I have a real penchant for) it IS solid, smooth, and so easy to readperfect for a high-flying adventure. I also applaud Ms. Stokes for leaving out the language and content so many of us find objectionable in children’s literature. I didn’t miss it! Her imagination for thinking up a superb plot is better than most and packaged air-tight, and colorful, bigger-than-life characters are becoming her trademark. No, this series isn’t particularly deep or beautiful, or even witty, but it sure is fun to read!

Once again, the end of the book leaves lots of wiggle room for a new adventure. Questions from the first book remain, and now we’ve left a psychotic new villain on the loose, last seen laughing maniacally. I’ll be eagerly awaiting book three, Elise!

Read my review of the first Cassidy Jones adventure, then find it here: Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula.

11 thoughts on “Cassidy Jones and Vulcan’s Gift, by Elise Stokes, 2011, Book Review

  1. I LOVED the first Cassidy Jones book (Erik won a copy of it on your blog)! I have to have him read about the new one when he gets home from school ! I think he has his review for the first one to come out sometime soon. I’m thinking Vulcan’s Gift can be a perfect Christmas gift for him (and me 🙂 )!

  2. Over lunch, I was just thinking about your remarks about how Elise Stokes leaves out the objectionable language and content in the Cassidy Jones series and I too thank her for writing such a wonderful story that my little advanced reader can really get into. Erik just did a review of the newest 39 Clues book and two of the comments he got were about the amount of “killing” in the series which prompted Erik to ask me why are some books with some violence and death OK for him to read (like the 39 Clues book, Mocking Bird, The Quill Pen), while others are not (Harry Potter, Alex Rider series). It was really hard for me to put into words what is and what is not acceptable. In his comment section of that post I linked my decisions on acceptable stories to the amount of emotional involvement the reader has in the violent parts of the story. A King’s Ransom’s violence – acceptable: he can read it. The Warrior’s Heir’s violence- not acceptable: no way no how he is reading this book until he’s at least 16. Why? I don’t know, I just know it when I read it. How does a writer draw that line? I’d love to hear your thoughts as a mother and a writer!

  3. I can’t wait to read this! I really want to know more about the villain (why was he laughing hysterically last seen?)!! I wish more books were kid friendly. A lot of books that seem good/interesing have bad content
    Erik
    P.S. Did Cassidy get a better ninja suit/outfit? Does she still have to wear purple face paint?

  4. Okay, Ginny, here goes…

    Let me start off answering your question with a huge generalization. I think the work a writer produces is first and foremost a result of that author’s worldview. Personal values about right and wrong and acceptable or unacceptable content are extremely varied. For me, I don’t want to inclue anything in my stories that goes against what I believe or that would negate what I’m teaching my kids. That makes a pretty easy line for me to hold. Also, I write primarily for middle graders, so I avoid most adolescent content. My only exception so far has been The Color of Freedom, which just touches on abuse and contains historical war scenes and the English swear word “bloody”. Still, I didn’t cross any lines I was uncomfortable with.

    As a mom, I think you’re right. Allowing or disallowing a book is very intuitive. It’s pretty easy for me to defend my decisions to not allow immoral or unsafe content unless there’s a particular reason for getting into it, but violence is trickier. Emotional involvement IS a good measuring tool. Is the violence implied, or is the reader living it? Is it graphic? Is it necessary? Is it historical? What is it teaching? What consequences play out? What tone does the book take toward violence?

    It’s totally a judgment call, and as moms we know our kids better than anyone.

    1. Great perspective -what a writer produces is a result of his/her own world view! I also relate well to the “implied, or is the reader living it” measure. I think it must be dificult writing historical novels that have to deal with war, slavery and other abuses for a middle grade audience. In your books you keep the flavor of the harshness of the events without going over the line…that’s a real hard line to skate (but you do it well 😉 ). I think you’re right -moms know their kids best and I wish more parents would be involved in reading selections for their children. Thanks for your thoughts (hope dinner and the movie was enjoyable)!

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