Steampunk + Bond-like gadgets + great characters = ‘The Expeditioners’

THE EXPEDITIONERS AND THE TREASURE OF THE DROWNED MAN’S CANYON,” McSweeney’s McMullen’s, December 2012, Hardcover, $22 (ages 10 and up)

Computers have failed. Electricity is no longer used. The world is bigger and more complex than originally thought. A whole new profession of explorers has evolved, mapping undiscovered lands and discovering new species of plants and animals.

Among those explorers is the brilliant mapmaker Alexander West. His maps and discoveries are world-renowned. And now he’s dead, and the events surrounding his demise are anything but clear-cut.

Alexander left behind three children: Kit the brain, M.K. the tinkerer and Zander the brave. He also left them a secret map — well half of a secret map — that could change their lives forever. It’s up to the three siblings to decode their father’s message before the wrong people get their hands on it.

“The Expeditioners” is an exciting ride from beginning to end. I love author S.S. Taylor’s idea of unexplored places right under our noses.

Steampunk imagery combined with James Bond-like gadgets really help round out the book, but it’s the characters that bring it fully to life.

Middle-sibling Kit becomes the voice of “The Expeditioners” giving familial insight with a slight bias. It’s just the right edge to lend emotion and likability to the West family. While the siblings are brave, vulnerability also shines through, making them feel both real and relatable.

“The Expeditioners” is a fast 384 pages — I read it in one sitting — that’s a perfect choice for either girls or boys looking for a new series that will keep their attention. I can’t wait for the next book.

*Read Cracking the Cover’s interview with S.S. Taylor.

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