The Secret Box
By Whitaker Ringwald
Expected publication February 25, 2014 by Katherine Tegen Books
Jax Malone receives a very special and secret birthday present on her 12th birthday - so secret, in fact, that her mother doesn't want her to have it. You see, it's from her estranged great-aunt Juniper, someone who Jax has never even heard of before. But that present belongs to Jax and she'll stop at nothing to get her hands on it.
I downloaded the egalley of this because I thought it sounded like a fun mystery adventure tween novel. Sadly, I was disappointed.
I really wanted to like this one because it sounded like so much fun, and it sounded like it had lots of kid appeal. Unfortunately, the book just wasn't very good. I found Jax to be an annoying protagonist - she's very selfish and almost bullies her cousin into doing what she wants. Her obsession with the present seems a bit much, though maybe I just don't remember what it's like to be 12 very well. I spent a good deal of the book wishing that Ethan would stand up for himself.
Additionally, the action seemed very convenient and underwhelming. Once again, maybe I have the wrong idea in my mind, but I was very surprised that their parents would let them travel to Washington, D.C. without adult supervision (Ethan's older brother hardly seems like proper supervision). I found it even more unlikely that the kids wouldn't alert the authorities when they were harassed and their car broken into on their way.
I was disappointed in the reveal of the contents of the box as well. I think it's an interesting idea, but it lacked something for me. The ending seems to leave enough unanswered questions that there could be a sequel, but I'm hoping there won't be. If there is, it's not likely that I'll be picking it up.
Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance readers copy, provided via Edelweiss.