Friday, November 23, 2012

Keeper of the Lost Cities

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
3/5 stars
Aladdin, 2012
488 pages
MG Adventure Fantasy

Source: Bought (an autographed copy!)

Summary: For seven years Sophie has been the smartest kid around, placed in advanced classes but seriously socially out of sync. Her brains come partially from her ability to read minds but as it turns out, also because she is an elf. And soon she is brought into the world of elves, needing to learn their ways but also bringing her unique human-raised experience to bear on the travails ahead of them all.

So I have followed Messenger's blog for ages and was so happy to see her get her book deal. I was also super excited to read said debut and to have scored a signed copy along with illustrations of some of the main characters. However as I read, I kept thinking back to this review from The Book Smugglers, which captured so many of my feelings in a much more articulate way than I could.

In case you don't have time to click through and read their review, there are three main points. First is the treatment of science and magic. When main character Sophie discovers some of the things that elves can do but humans cannot, she calls it magic. The elf with her laughs at that explanation; see it's not science nor is it magic, it's just the way the world is. What?! What kind of answer is that, either for the supposedly bright Sophie or for me the reader? 

The second point is Sophie as "the Special Snowflake." She's uber-talented and impressive beyond her years to the characters in the book but certainly not to me. I found her pretty average albeit incredibly lucky in her circumstances and through some of the decisions she makes.

Third we have the Harry Potter ripoff-that was admittedly the part I enjoyed most. There are a lot of setup scenes as well as outside of school scenes but my favorite parts were by far those when Sophie was attending her classes (which are mostly one on one-there are apparently a lot of mentors).

From my own observations, I have to say that I don't find the title super accurate. I think it could serve as the series title as Sophie is surely going to become the Keeper of the Lost Cities but I don't think it really applies to the plot in this book. I also most quibble with the plot, which was on the long side and seemed to have the two sides of Sophie learning about her elfin heritage and attending school. As previously mentioned, the latter was what I liked most but the former comes to dominate at the end and I really struggled to read this rather lengthy book.

Overall: I so very much wanted to love this but for the multiple reasons outlined above, it did not please me. If these points stand out to you, this might not be the kind of read you'd enjoy either.


  1. Sorry this one was a disappointment! I hope you love what you're reading now :)

  2. I'm really disappointed that this one isn't working out for a lot of people because I really wanted to read it and was so looking forward to it. But I trust the Book Smugglers and I trust you, so...I actually might pass on this one. I need a proper explanation for things for them to work for me. I can't handle the way things seem to be explained in this book. Great review.

  3. I'm sorry to hear that this book didn't work out for you. The points of critics doesn't sound so bad that I don't want to read this book. I still like the idea of this book (and yes, I admit; I love the cover :p), but thanks for the honest review!


  4. I was wondering about this one. I love the cover and it sounded like it had potential. Sorry you were so disappointed. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think I'll save this one for later.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  5. Oh no, you and TBS? :( Darn. I really don't like the special snowflake phenomenon, especially when I don't see it in the character myself. I'm thinking I'd do well to avoid this book. Thank you for the info!


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