Friday, April 26, 2013

Book Review: Kingdom Keepers - Disney After Dark (Kingdom Keepers 1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Imaginative and fun with many suspenseful scenes
Cons: Weak characters; plot holes; weak climax
The Bottom Line:
Magic for DisNerds
Overcomes some weaknesses
With memorable scenes




Protecting the Magic Kingdom

When I first heard about Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark, I knew I'd read it.  How could I pass up a book set after hours at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World?  I am just too big a Disney fan to even think about it.  Still, it took me to know to get the book and read it.  Yes, there are some pretty serious flaws in it.  But it's also quite fun.

Finn is having strange dreams.  They started when the thirteen year old became a "Disney Host Interactive," a fancy term for a hologram that guides guests around Disney World's Magic Kingdom.  But now, every night, he finds himself wandering around the deserted theme park.

Things only get weirder when he finds out the other four DHI's are experiencing the same thing.  Then they learn from Imagineer Wayne that this was their real purpose.  Seems that the forces of evil are trying to rebel and take over the park.  And it is up to Finn and his new friends to figure out a way to stop them from succeeding.  Can they do it?

I was half way through the book before any of the flaws began to become apparent to me.  First of all, the characters are weak.  Outside of Finn and Amanda, a new friend he makes at school as everything starts, I didn't feel like I got to know any of the others.  Of course, Finn is the main character, so it does make some sense.  But really, the other four DHI's were interchangeable.

There was a pretty major plot hole in the book as well, having to do with what Walt did and didn't do with the park.  Since he died before the park officially opened, I found some of the plot points a stretch at best.

Honestly, I was able to let these things go, however, because I got so caught up in the story.  The first night, I intended to read a couple chapters, but wound up reading 70 pages.  Every time I picked up the book, it was the same thing; I just couldn't put it down.

This is billed as a thriller for ages 10 and up, and I can see that.  As the book progressed, things got more intense.  But there were several scenes along the way that were nail biting.  I may never look at Small World or the Winnie the Pooh ride the same way again.

The book makes great use of the setting.  Since I was just at Disney World for the first time a couple months ago, the layout and rides were fresh in my mind.  I had no trouble picturing anything or how it differed from the park I know better, Disneyland.

The writing is sharp and clean, making for an easy read, which was good for the two late night sessions it took before I had finished.

There is one more problem, however.  The climax was, well, anti-climatic.  After some of the thrilling scenes we'd already had, I was expecting more.  It certainly did work while leaving things open for the recently published sequel.

Despite the complaints, I really did enjoy Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark and plan to read the sequel soon.  Any Disney fan will enjoy this fantasy trip to one of their favorite places.

You'll definitely want to move on to the rest of the Kingdom Keepers books in order.

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