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Who in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?

Review

Who in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?

For years Carmen Sandiego has been known as a stock character that appeared in computer games and on game shows. She was a tricky criminal represented in games designed to teach children of the 1990s their geography. In her trademark outfit of a bright red hat and coat, people were always asking where she was, but it seems no one ever bothered to ask the question of who she was until now. To compliment the new original series on Netflix, author Rebecca Tinker has written WHO IN THE WORLD IS CARMEN SANDIEGO?

It will be easy for those who grew up with the Carmen Sandiego geography games to approach finding out more details about this woman with skepticism as they ask themselves the question, “Do we really want to know who Carmen Sandiego is? Will it enhance or ruin our childhoods?” On the other hand, the rebirth of Carmen Sandiego may not be for the children of the ’90s, but this story could very well serve the purpose of introducing her with a new angle to a whole new generation. Whether you grew up with the stock character criminal Carmen Sandiego or the book WHO IN THE WORLD IS CARMEN SANDIEGO is your first exposure, the exciting plotline in this book will not disappoint. WHO IN THE WORLD IS CARMEN SANDIEGO? is a book that will both leave the reader satisfied as well as have them hoping for a sequel.

"An action-packed thriller that readers won’t want to put down. Tinker brings Carmen Sandiego to life in a way that modern, complicated, female leads should be represented."

In this book, the mystery of Carmen Sandiego is kept alive, with Tinker revealing details of her life little by little. It turns out Carmen Sandiego grew up on a top secret island (whose geographic location cannot be determined) in a school for criminals. Normally, students have to be practically adults before entering this school, but for some reason Carmen grew up there under the supervision of the professors with no parents. Everyone grows up under a code name; hers is “Black Sheep,” at the beginning of the book, but she tells the story of how she became “Carmen Sandiego” to someone from her past that she encounters on a train ride. WHO IN THE WORLD IS CARMEN SANDIEGO? is an action-packed thriller that readers won’t want to put down.

Tinker brings Carmen Sandiego to life in a way that modern, complicated, female leads should be represented. Carmen Sandiego is skillful, smart and mischievous, yet caring, relatable and extremely likeable, especially for a criminal. Readers who found power in other famous female lead characters such as Katniss or Tris will definitely like Carmen Sandiego.

The only flaw in this book is in the narrative point of view. The story flashes to different points of view, but much of it is told by Carmen Sandiego in first person, though it sounds as if it was first written in third person and then switched over. The parts of the book written in first person sound more distant than a first person narrative should sound as the point of view doesn’t delve into the power of revealing as much as first person narrative can such as personal feelings and most instances that use “I” could have been replaced with Carmen’s name with the same effect.

Despite this one small shortcoming, WHO IN THE WORLD IS CARMEN SANDIEGO? is well worth the read for all audiences. As I said before, it will satisfy both those who are familiar with Carmen Sandiego’s geographic past and those just being introduced to her. Carmen Sandiego becomes so much more than a stock character criminal in the most positive ways. Presenting the new version of Carmen Sandiego in book form is a good addition to introducing the Netflix original series, it will allow those who do not have access to Netflix to get to know the new Carmen Sandiego and those who do watch the show will be able to enjoy her story off-screen as well as on-screen.

Reviewed by Angela Warsinske on January 30, 2019

Who in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?
(Carmen Sandiego #1)
by Rebecca Tinker