Keeper of the Lost Cities, by Shannon Messenger
I feel just a little guilty that I’m only now getting around to reading Shannon‘s books, given what a great host of MMGM she’s been. And, being the contrary individual that I am, I also feel a little awkward posting a spotlight! I guess it feels kind of like talking about someone in the room, as if they’re not. But, I’ve decided to toss all that aside and just focus on spotlighting a book I enjoyed. Much more sensible, as I’m sure you’ll agree. 😀
I found Keeper of the Lost Cities to be thoroughly enjoyable, while not quite what I expected. Maybe it was the cover, but I expected a book that felt more solidly middle grade, whereas this book skews a little more YA I think. More so than Lightning Thief, because the characters are more mature, but less so than Airman, which I’ll be spotlighting in the next week or two. I really enjoyed Sophie as a main character, and while she’s hardly your typical 12 to 13-year-old, she comes across as authentic and true to herself. One of the things I loved about her was her generosity. She hasn’t had the easiest life, and she’s been bombarded by the most candid of human thoughts–even those of her parents’ that she really shouldn’t have had to hear–but instead of becoming bitter or angry as so many kids would, she’s chosen to stretch past all that. It’s not that it didn’t impact her–she’s cautious, and a little flinchy–but she’s got the moral fiber to do what she believes she must even if she’s alone in that choice. That’s something I really respect in a character, and rarely see. The fact that it’s bottled in a pint-sized 12-year-old body was a definite plus!
The world building had strong echoes of Harry Potter and Hogwarts, and at one point I was concerned that we’d be following such a well-trodden path that the story wouldn’t stand on its own. But, that fear proved unfounded. Yes, there are similarities–a secret people hidden from the humans, a child of great significance in their world raised without knowledge of who they are in ours, a school with funky classes in which potion-like substances must be whipped together, and a division within the powers that be of their world as to how this child should be handled, with some wishing them harm–but in the end, it’s not Hogwarts and the story is uniquely Sophie’s and that’s all that matters.
Now, let’s see what Apricot-kitty thinks:
“You know that if there were really a secret society of enlightened individuals, cats would be in it, right? Most likely ruling, or at least guiding it from the shadows. And while you’re thinking down those lines…haven’t you ever wondered where I was, when I disappeared for hours? And why I sometimes seem to appear where you knew a moment ago I wasn’t? Yes, I’ll just let you think on that. Keep thinking….”
Trust the cat to jump right into any mystery, and put her paw on the pulse! Which reminds me–lots of cool and memorable creatures here, too! I am definitely planning on picking up the sequel, and look forward to more of the delicate plots twists that show up throughout the book. I also can’t wait to spend more time with all the secondary characters. This book never throws characters at you–each is introduced carefully and in the proper course–yet it still managed to end up with a very full cast. And, each was unique and memorable! In fact, they feel more like protagonists in a story we haven’t been told, so I sincerely hope that we learn more about each of them in the sequel.
Hats off to Shannon for a great read, and thanks, as always, for hosting Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! What are you reading lately?