This series tells the story of a group of teenage mountain climbers who try to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. Their team is sponsored by a private company looking for publicity and is led by a group of adults, none of whom appear psychologically sound. While the descriptions of mountain climbing may be accurate, the plot itself is completely unrealistic, (starting with the question, “What parent in his/her right mind would send a thirteen-year-old half way around the world, with strangers, to climb the highest mountain on earth?!”).
That said, the books should appeal to children, especially boys. There is adventure and suspense. The hero of the story, thirteen-year-old Dominic, manages to perform feats that most adults would not attempt, including a risky rescue of experienced climbers. However, it is not evident until the end of the third book that he will reach the summit of the mountain. Dominic is perhaps the only truly “normal” character in the series. Most of the other teens on the trip are either running away from problems at homes or have something to prove. In fact, the intrigue in the story revolves primarily around the conflict among these ambitious adolescents.
The reader knows from the beginning of the series that one of the climbers will die on the mountain, but must wait until the very end of the book to learn which teen will not return home. (One team member freezes to death, which is the only realistic aspect of the books.) For students looking for a book that involves adventure and resourcefulness, My Side of the Mountain is a far superior piece of literature with a similar theme.
Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher currently living in Ridgewood, NJ.