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."


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!"


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

This mystery book by Peter Lerangis is the third book in " The 39 Clues" series and is published by Scholastic, Inc.

The Sword Thief is written for kids ages 9 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


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.

In this book, Dan and Amy find their boarding passes missing after Nellie (the kids' au pair [nanny]) has boarded their plane to Tokyo. Uncle Alistair, a competitor, offers to take the kids to Tokyo on his private jet. Though Dan and Amy have been warned not to trust anyone, they have little choice but to accept since Nellie, their only adult-figure, is already en route to Japan. Once in Tokyo, Alistair and the kids discuss Japanese history and decide the clues are pointing them to an ancient warrior from the Thomas branch of the Cahill family named Hideyoshi and his descendants, the yakuza. They've just printed out a map of secret subway tunnels when they realize their computer has been hacked by the Holt family, another competitor.

The Holts capture and transport them to the subway, where the whole group looks for clues until they're almost hit by a train. The Holts escape the way they entered, while the kids are saved by Alistair, who pulls them into a secret room within the tunnel walls. Yakuza warriors with swords quickly drive Alistair and the kids above ground, but just as they're about to be captured, Nellie, the two relatives who stole their boarding passes (Ian and Natalie Kabra), and Grace's cat, Saladin, arrive to save them. Alistair and the kids decide to work with the Kabras temporarily. Ian gives Amy a coin with a symbol on it, and in conjunction with a scroll they've found in the subway, the group decides the clues are pointing toward Alistair's homeland, Korea. On the flight, Alistair thinks about his painful discovery: Many years ago his Uncle Bae hired someone to murder Alistair's father.

When the next clue leads them to an alchemy chart and a mountain cave containing a new clue, Ian takes back the coin and uses it to seal Amy, Dan and Alistair in the cave while he and Natalie escape to continue their quest. Alistair and the kids find gunpowder fuses and blow their way out of the cave, but Alistair does not emerge from the rubble. The children appear devastated because they think he died. Bae and the elusive man in black (who appears briefly in each book) watch their reactions from the shadows. They also believe Alistair has been killed. As the children and Nellie resignedly head to Egypt to follow the next lead, Alistair reveals to Bae that he's still alive.

Christian Beliefs

When Alistair and the kids need to start a fire and only have three matches left, Alistair instructs them to pray.

Other Belief Systems

The kids find a collection of golden buddhas. Amy believes she and Dan have had a seven-year string of bad luck, beginning with the deaths of their parents. Alistair says evolution does not favor the Holts' branch of the family.

Authority Roles

Elderly Uncle Alistair has a soft spot for Dan and Amy, even though they're the competition. His inner monologue reveals that both his father and their parents were killed so someone could obtain clues.

(Clarifying note: On the one hand, Grace dies and leaves behind a challenge about the 39 clues. But on the other, the book indicates that the various Cahill branches have been looking for clues for generations. Alistair's father was killed when he was 4, and Dan and Amy's parents died seven years ago. Evidently they were killed by some of the clue seekers before Grace died.)

Alistair partners with Dan and Amy for most of the book, helping them get to Japan and sharing his secret information about the contest. He lies to a librarian about what he's researching so she will allow him access to the library's computers. Nellie, a young lady with multiple piercings and tattoos who loves punk rock music, is the token caretaker for the kids now that they're on the run from their mean aunt and legal guardian. Showing no concern for Dan's and Amy's lives, Eisenhower Holt commands his family to get out of a tunnel as the subway approaches. Alistair recalls his painful childhood under the guidance of his greedy, ruthless Uncle Bae, who had Alistair's father killed and raised him when his mother had to be hospitalized due to her grief.


Characters use God's name in vain several times. Butt, dang, fart, heck and turd also appear. When Alistair tells the kids they're in a cave full of schist, Dan tells him to watch his language. Eisenhower says that the Holts are viewed as stains on the family underpants. Irina curses violently, though the actual swear words don't appear in the text.

Dan and Amy vomit after they escape from an explosion, which they believe has killed Alistair. Dan refers several times to video games he plays, including Warcraft and Ninja Gaiden. He says the ninjas in the latter game will cut off your arms and feed them to you. In their online search for clues, the kids find a picture of a scary Japanese warrior holding a severed head.


Ian brushes his lips against Amy's, an almost-kiss, after he saves her from a rockslide.

Discussion Topics

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

Additional Comments/Notes

Go to PluggedIn for reviews of the online games and video games that kids in this book played: World of Warcraft and Ninja Gaiden II

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

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

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!