WARNING: This review contains spoilers. It's written for busy parents who want to know what their child is reading – but don't have time to read the book for themselves. Now for the review …
In this fifth (and supposedly final) book of the Secret series, a class trip to the local natural history museum turns dangerous when Cass accidentally breaks a finger off a mummy.
As punishment, Cass and her friends Max-Ernest and Yo-Yoji are sent to work for the mummy exhibit's curator-only to be blamed when the mummy disappears.
As Cass and her friends race to clear their names and discover the Secret, they run into the evil Ms. Mauvais and Dr. L-who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the Secret before the kids do.
The Good Stuff
Pseudonymous Bosch did it again! You Have to Stop This is a funny, suspenseful story for kids that's hard to put down.
This book is part mystery … part "coming of age" – but the main theme that runs through the entire series is friendship. It's rewarding for the reader to see Cass and Max-Ernest start off as loners and end up as close friends who trust and need each other.
As with the other books in the Secret series, any "violence" is of the mild sort.
– The Lord Pharaoh's ghost tries to replace the mummy's missing finger by cutting off Dr. L's finger to put in its place. (This is "told" – not "shown.")
– Cass and her friends are grabbed by Lord Pharaoh's henchmen. Max-Ernest and Yo-Yoji are tossed outside, but Cass is locked into a canopic jar – a container which was historically used by Egyptians for storing the organs of the dead.
– When rescuing Cass, Yo-Yoji tackles Lord Pharaoh and pins him to the floor.
Magic, Sorcery and Spirituality
You Have to Stop This contains many references to ancient Egypt and its gods-Thoth, in particular.
For example …
– The Book of Thoth is said to contain all the spells in the universe.
– Cass has the Ring of Thoth in her possession-and it contains magical powers. When placed on the finger of the mummy, the secret would be revealed.
– If the Lord Pharaoh learns the Secret first, he will become immortal and all-powerful. He would no longer be just a ghost. He would be able to claim any body he desires as his own and walk the earth like a living god.
– When Cass places the Ring of Thoth on the mummy's finger, she has some kind of out-of-body type of experience where she's flying over the Nile River.
Drugs and Alcohol
Other Negative Stuff
As with the other Secret books, Cass and Max-Ernest have to do a significant amount of lying to their parents in order to have their adventures. And that's not all …
Pseudonymous Bosch mentions a "private part" that supposedly fell of the King Tut mummy. (You might have fun explaining that one to your child!)
Also, a waitress in the casino and some of the dancers in Lord Pharaoh's magic show are described as "nearly naked" and "scantily clad."
My Two Cents
You Have to Stop This really is a fun read for kids. The characters are likeable … the plot is full of unexpected twists and turns … and the illustrations are whimsical. Plus, the "extras" thrown in by the ever-intrusive narrator add to the book's appeal.
Overall, You Have to Stop This is an entertaining, kid-friendly book. It's totally appropriate for the recommended age group – ages 9 and up.