Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger (Keeper of the Lost Cities #1)
Released: October 2012
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NO RATING, DNF
Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Sophie Foster has a secret. She’s a Telepath—someone who hears the thoughts of everyone around her. It’s a talent she’s never known how to explain.Everything changes the day she meets Fitz, a mysterious boy who appears out of nowhere and also reads minds. She discovers there’s a place she does belong, and that staying with her family will place her in grave danger. In the blink of an eye, Sophie is forced to leave behind everything and start a new life in a place that is vastly different from anything she has ever known.Sophie has new rules to learn and new skills to master, and not everyone is thrilled that she has come “home.”
There are secrets buried deep in Sophie’s memory—secrets about who she really is and why she was hidden among humans—that other people desperately want. Would even kill for.
Ever since I gave up on Lauren Oliver’s Delirium, I’ve become more open to the idea of not finishing books I’m just not that in to. Last week, I read three pages of Rain, Reign by Ann M. Martin before calling it quits (the style of narration was really overwhelming to me), and today, after reading about a third of the book and the final chapter, I gave up on Keeper of the Lost Cities. I’m kind of devastated too, because I really, really wanted to love this book.
I felt disconnected from the characters, which is automatically a bad start, because if I don’t care about the characters, how can I care about their plight? Too many were introduced in this first novel, so it was hard to keep everyone straight, and I felt like the characters lacked development; even the main character seemed a little bland. Perhaps most disappointing of all though, this story lacked true friendships. This is a middle grade, fantasy novel, so I went in to it expecting Sophie to discover her BFF4Es (her Ron and Hermione) but all Sophie seemed to gain was allies, not true friends.
I felt similarly about the world building. Everything in the fantasy world has the potential to be new and exciting for the reader, but there were too many ideas and products and foods and activities that were introduced. Their existence often seemed arbitrary, and there seemed to be a lot of “hand waving” just to keep the story moving. That was so un-fulfilling because there were so many fun ideas, like strawberry-flavored air, which I think is some kind of snack, or the fact that wooly mammoths still exist in the lost cities, or catching rides on light beams, but they just became lost in the background.
And…is it just me, or does this book seem oddly similar to Harry Potter? Both characters spend childhood feeling out-of-place in the mundane world only to find out as pre-teens that they have magical abilities and really belong at a school that teaches them how to control their abilities. Sophie doesn’t end up at a boarding school like Harry does, but the reader does get to accompany her during all of her exciting magical classes like Multispecies Studes (ie. Muggle Studies), Metaphysics, the Universe, Elementalism, and Alchemy (ie. potions complete with an instructor that is extra harsh on her). I actually think this has to potential to be exciting for some young readers, but…you have to understand, Harry Potter is “my jam” so I’m unfortunately extra critical when I notice such similarities. Harry Potter trumps all.
There is no star rating for Keeper of the Lost Cities (not to be confused with a zero-star rating). I didn’t finish it, so I don’t think I can rate it fairly.