Century: Ring of Fire, by Pierdomenico Baccalario, is the first of four books in the Century series.
“Every hundred years, four kids from four cities must save the world.”
On December 29th, three families arrive at a small hotel in Rome. Due to an error with reservations, Elettra’s family finds themselves overbooked. But that night, four children from different countries discover a strange coincidence. They all share the same, rare birthday: February 29th. When a blackout occurs, the children wander outside and encounter an odd man who hands them a briefcase. Later, they discover that the man was murdered. Elettra and her new friends must follow the clues inside the briefcase before the evil killer can catch up to them and stop them from finding the mysterious Ring of Fire.
Written for pre-teens, the story is short and very fast-paced. The mystery/mission is a bit muddled. It’s still not clear why the children need to be from different cities, why there need to be four of them, what the significance is of their birthdays, and why there is an evil presence trying to stop them (since their supposedly saving the world in some manner). Hopefully, these things are explained in the later books. As it is, this first episode is very suspenseful, to say the least. A menacing assassin is at their heels, and the children are never sure who they can trust.
The characters are larger than life, some comical. But readers are left in the dark about certain key characters and their motivations, for now. This definitely had the feel of a “Da Vinci Code for young readers” but with quite a bit more at stake. Ring of Fire is certainly a fun and exciting start to a series with certain potential.