With more than 100,000 copies sold of the original books in Seven (The Series), it is no surprise that Orca Book Publishers is releasing a second offering of seven more books featuring the same characters and the same impressive roster of authors. In the Seven Sequels, readers find out that the deceased grandfather whose will assigned tasks to his seven grandsons was much more than an adventurous renaissance man – he was also an international man of mystery.
When the boys visit their departed grandfather’s cabin, they stumble upon a dozen passports, an encoded journal, huge sums of foreign currency, and a gun. The grandsons divide up the clues and set off to different parts of the world to find out if Grandpa was a heroic wartime spy or a nefarious double agent. In Sleeper, Eric Walters (the creator of the series) continues the story of DJ, whom readers first met in Between Heaven and Earth, when he was completing his assigned feat of climbing Kilimanjaro.
Walters’ greatest strength is the breakneck speed of his plots, which favour pace over polish. Sleeper is no exception. This action-packed style, combined with the fact that the books are designed to be read in any order or as standalones, leaves meaningful relationships and complex plot threads by the wayside.
Were follow-ups to the original seven books needed to resolve cliffhangers or advance character development? Not at all, but like a James Bond movie, the draw here is the comfort of the formula. DJ’s story does not bring anything original to the tropes of the secret agent/thriller genre (his love interest is blonde and blue-eyed, the car chases feature Jaguars, Mercedes, and BMWs, and the bad guys are duelling Russian and American forces), but this is not a mark of failure. Flashy, quick, and fun, Sleeper is a perfect Robert Ludlum-esque redux for the middle-grade set.