Last Descendants by Matthew J. Kirby

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An Assassin's Creed series. Scholastic, 2016. ISBN 9781743811788
(Age: 12+) 15 year old Owen's life has not been the same since his father was imprisoned for a murder Owen is sure he didn't commit and then died in prison. His mum has to work long hours and they live with his grandparents who take every opportunity to disparage his father and pry into his life in case he is turning out like him. Owen has drifted away from his best friend Javier but he seeks him out for support in his quest to clear his father's name. Monroe, an IT worker at his school has offered Owen the chance to try the Animus simulation developed by Abstergo Corporation which takes samples of your DNA and allows you to access genetic memories, entering into the lives of your ancestors. Owen asks Javier to go with him for support but finds out that the simulation can't help his quest as his father's DNA can only be expressed in him up to the time he was born. They both go ahead with a joint simulation anyway and find themselves as a conquistador and a Tlaxcaltec warrior. When they meet with Cortez and feel him wield a powerful influence on them Monroe abruptly ends the simulation and anxiously hurries them away. It turns out that the powerful influence came from an object of power that the secret societies, the Templars, who believe that powerful people can impose order on chaos, and the Brotherhood of Assassins, who believe in preserving the free will of the people but who demand absolute loyalty and obedience in their members, have been searching for and that Owen and Javier are now being hunted down for their genetic memories. In a bid to find the object first Monroe whisks them away to a warehouse where they meet a group of kids their age who all have either Templar of Assassin in their DNA. They enter into a group simulation which takes place during the 1863 New York Draft Riots to find Cortez's dagger, a powerful Piece of Eden which they believe was taken to the Aztec Club headquarters in the Astor Hotel.
As a phenomenally successful video game Assassin's Creed has spawned books, games, and the recently released movie. This new book joins eight previous successful series and is sure to find an avid readership in the middle school age group. As a new reader I found enough fundamental information to follow the story though there were too many characters to really engage with them. No doubt they will come into play in subsequent books in this series. It was good to see some powerful female figures but this is still essentially a book for boys.
Sue Speck