Sunday, November 22, 2015

Review: Keeper of the Lost Cities Series (So Far)

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Image result for keeper of the lost cities never seen
Look at these covers.  Aren't they beautiful?

Quite a long while ago, I wrote about a delightful book called Keeper of the Lost Cities, a book I picked up on a whim at the library and proceeded to fall in love with.

Since then, Shanon Messenger has come out with several more books in that same series, the latest one being Neverseen, We are now anxiously awaiting book five... and when I say anxiously, I really do mean anxiously.  These books are intense!  I know they're children's literature, and the main characters are between 12 and 15, but I- at 19 years old- am nearly weeping and jumping up and down excitedly with the rest of those little teens!  
Anyway, since I've fallen so behind in reviewing each book, I decided to put them all together in this one post.  To all of my readers out there- prepare yourself for a some uncharacteristic hype.  These books are FEELS-inducing!
And to all of you other Keeper fans out there, you know what I'm talking about. *sniff*

Image result for keeper of the lost cities bronteSo, just to recap, Book One tells the story of how 12-year-old child genius and telepath Sophie Foster learns that she is really an elf from a hidden society, and that in order to remain safe and master her powers, she must go and live among her people.  There, she meets many new friends:  the handsome Fitz Vacker, his sister Bianna, a wonderfully intelligent boy named Dex, and laughing jokester Keefe Sencen.  But the elven world, despite its dazzling beauty and seemingly Utopian ideals, is filled with secrets and lies- and danger lies around every corner.  It's just that no one is willing to admit it.

Image result for keeper of the lost cities bronteIn book two, Exile, we find Sophie and her friends caught up in a battle that none of the elves seem to believe exists.  The mysterious organization responsible for creating Sophie with her peculiar abilities, The Black Swan,  is as elusive as ever.   The elven council is still hiding something, and the a third, unnamed group is quickly working their sinister agenda.  Sophie must unravel the mysteries surrounding herself and those close to her before it's too late.  And when an extremely rare and precious Alicorn is found, things turn ugly fast.

Image result for keeper of the lost cities bronteIn book three, Everblaze, Sophie, Fitz, Bianna, Dex, and Keefe have uncovered more about the Black Swan and their mysterious foes- but lies, fears, and misconceptions still bar the way to truth.  Sophie must use her newfound ability to heal the broken minds of those who hold key information to the war that threatens the elven world.  But things are more complicated than they seem, and not everyone is who they appear to be.  Enemies lurk around every corner; the only trouble is figuring out who they are.  

Image result for keeper of the lost cities never seenAnd finally in book four, Neverseen, we find Sophie and her band of friends on the run from the council and the stifling injustice of their flawed Utopia.  The Black Swan welcomes them with open arms- but victory over the villainous Neverseen will not be simple.  Their enemy is widespread and cunning, and no matter what Sophie and her friends try, they always seem to be one step behind.  
As Sophie continues her training with Fitz, tensions rise between him and Keefe, who is reeling from the shock of losing those closest to him in ways far worse than death.  Sophie tries desperately to help her friends, and herself, understand the pain of the world, but betrayal and trickery hang like a dark shadow, blinding them from all that is most important.

These books have the power to make you feel strongly for the characters.  I swear, reading these books has inspired some of my most moving "revolution speeches" that I intend to use in my actual books.  The world in which the elves lives is beautiful in many ways, and most of the elves are well-meaning.  However, the willful blindness of the council and even most of the citizens is infuriating.  there are so many problems to be fixed.... it's a good thing I don't live there because I would have been starting a rebellion long ago.
And this last book, Neverseen just about broke my heart.  I won't say anything to avoid giving spoilers out, but it's just awful.  And so very good.  I can't wait for the next one.
The characters are fun and easy to identify with.  My favorites are Keefe, Grady, and of course, Sophie.  Oh!  And Mr. Forkle, naturally.  Oh, there are so many loveable characters, it's hard to choose a favorite.

ANd there are so many possible "ships"!  Sophie x Fitz, Sophie x Keefe, Bianna x Keefe, Dex x Sophie, Tam x Sophie, Bianna x Tam...

Whew.  There are too many.  I suspect Shanon Messenger favors Fitz and Sophie together, but my personal favorite pairing is Sophie and Keefe.  Time will tell us...

On the technical side of things these books are well written.  They are simplistically told so that a child could understand them, but they are also sophisticated, and the words the author spins serve to invoke just the right atmosphere in such a way that adults could enjoy them just as much.  There are lots of hidden clues throughout the books that allow you to solve the mysteries alongside Sophie and the gang, if you pay close attention.  I and my sisters called several of the revelations in this latest book before they happened- but we were still surprised when we saw it confirmed.  There was many a "HA!  I KNEW IT!"  echoing through our house as we each worked through the book.
But at the same time, these books aren't totally predictable.  There are many twists and turns that manage to surprise even me- and I'm pretty genre savvy when it comes to books and movies.  Overall, this series makes a fun, exciting, and occasionally agonizing read for any fan of fantasy, school stories, and good books in general.  I would recommend it to anyone of any age.  :D

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-Emmarayn Redding

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