WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

The Black Circle by Patrick Carman has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the fifth book in the "39 Clues" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

In the first book in "The 39 Clues" series (The Maze of Bones), Dan and Amy Cahill's wealthy grandmother, Grace, dies and leaves a challenge to her large extended family: Whoever finds the 39 clues she's left behind will gain wealth and prestige beyond their wildest dreams. Orphaned Amy (age 14) and her brother, Dan, (age 11) are determined to outplay their vicious, devious family members.

While investigating a clue in the Cairo airport, Dan and Amy receive their first of many mysterious messages from someone called NRR. The note leads them to a locker containing a clue, a travel guide, a credit card, disguises and two tickets for a flight to Russia leaving in an hour. With competitor cousins the Holts and the Kabras on their tails, Dan and Amy learn they have just 36 hours to get to NRR before a secret room containing clues and information about their parents closes forever.

The kids fly to Russia, leaving their au pair (nanny), Nellie, behind in Cairo. When they and cousin Hamilton Holt simultaneously find a clue inside a statue, the kids decide the only way to meet their time deadline is to work with the Holt family. The Holts go to Siberia in search of half of the clues while Dan and Amy follow a lead involving the infamous Rasputin to St. Petersburg. Since their disguises make them look older, Dan and Amy are able to get a motorcycle, then a small car, to drive themselves around. The kids travel to the royal village, summer home of the czars, and realize they must find the Amber Room, which was stolen from one of the village castles by the Nazis in World War II. (Note: The whole room was historically stolen.)

They find a clue in the village that guides them to a theater at the Kremlin in Moscow, and a theater trap door leads them to NRR. Her real name is Nataliya Ruslanovna Radova; she is a descendant of Anastasia Romonov, as well as a member of the Lucian branch with 39 clues competitors Irina Spasky and Ian and Natalie Kabra. For reasons she won't explain, Nataliya betrays her own family branch to help the kids get into the Amber Room, which is hidden in a church. There, they find their next significant clue, a gram of melted amber.

Christian Beliefs

None

Other Belief Systems

Amy reads that Rasputin convinced the Russian royals he had supernatural healing powers. In several places throughout the book, the kids suggest that maybe he did. Irina says that when you lose a child, you lose your soul.

Authority Roles

Nellie, Dan and Amy's young au pair and primary authority figure, is in Cairo for most of the book while the kids make their way across Russia alone. They contact her and tell her what happens; she makes plans to meet up with them in Moscow. The kids frequently follow clues on their own, which mildly worries Nellie but never results in discipline or increased oversight.

Eisenhower Holt is concerned about his son, Hamilton, who is working with Dan and Amy to find clues. He lectures the boy on not going soft or failing the family. Eisenhower's mother died young, and readers get the impression that his father was hard on him in his youth. Irina lost a child (though no detail is given as to how or when), and she attributes much of her heartless behavior to this event.

After her dad makes a joke about his muscles, one of the Holt cousins says, "My father is a dork." Nataliya puts herself at great risk to help the kids find a clue and learn more about their parents.

Profanity/Violence

Dan mentions sores on a butt when he mistakes the word hemophilia (a disease from which both Alexie Romanov and Nataliya suffered) for hemorrhoids.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

None

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Lying: The kids leave a note for Nellie saying they're going out to get doughnuts when they're actually looking for a clue in the Cairo airport. Dan skillfully fools his cousin Hamilton about a clue because Grace taught him to bluff like a Vegas poker player. The kids pay someone to help them deceive Irina to get her off their trail.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!