Monday, June 24, 2013

Book Review: Kingdom Keepers IV - Power Play by Ridley Pearson

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: New developments mean some changes to the formula.
Cons: Some overused elements early on, lack of real character development
The Bottom Line
Fresh new ideas
And plenty of excitement
Make this a winner

The Kingdom Keepers Face Off Against New Overtakers Trying to Make a Power Play

Fantasy and Disney World collide in the Kingdom Keepers series.  It’s a creative mix that finds modern day kids fighting off classic Disney villains who are attempting to take over the parks and steal the magic.  Kingdom Keepers IV: Power Play starts out feeling like the others but soon takes things in some exciting directions.

I don’t recommend started the series here just because there is so much that has already been established you’ll spend much of the book catching up on the world that author Ridley Pearson has created.  Looking for a crash course?  Five ordinary kids modeled for a new program at Disney World that used them as holograms guides for the guests.  However, the kids also found themselves crossing over to the parks at night.  That’s when they learned the Imagineers has created the program as a part of their battle against the Overtakers, a group of Disney villains who are tired of being trapped in the parks and want to take the magic from the parks and leave to try to conquer the real world.

The last book ended with Maleficent and Chernabog, the leaders of the Overtakers, being captured.  Ever since then, life for the Kingdom Keepers has been quiet.  But all that changes when they are visiting Disney Quest and see Snow White’s Evil Queen and Cruella de Vil.  The two villains are definitely up to something, and a video sent to Philby confirms it.  Meanwhile, Charlene is acting strangely and some kids at their schools suddenly have green eyes.  Can the Kingdom Keepers figure out what the villains are planning in time to stop it?

At the end of book three, I was feeling like the stories were trapped with the same basic things happening in each book.  We’d even gone up against the same villains every time.  At first, this book felt similar with the Evil Queen and Cruella substituting for Maleficent and Chernabog.  However, as the book progressed, we were introduced to several other Disney characters, good and bad, we hadn’t seen before.  A twist the characters discover later also helps make this book feel fresh.

Not that it would have mattered too much.  I find the stories thrilling and I always have a hard time putting them down once I start reading them.  Even when the characters are relatively safe, I just know danger is on the next page.  And the story moves forward so quickly I’m usually not that far off.  The 430 pages fly by.  This time around, I couldn’t see how he could resolve the various plot threads he had going in the final 40 pages.  While plenty was left open for the next book, I did feel the plot came to a satisfactory enough conclusion for this entry in the series.

I’ll admit I was surprised that we didn’t spend more time in Hollywood Studios in this book.  Each book has focused on one of the parks, although the characters usually hit more than one before it’s all over.  Hollywood Studios hasn’t had its turn yet, so I expected the majority to take place here.  However, I felt we spent more time at EPCOT then here.  Then again, maybe that was payback since the climax of book three took place in Hollywood Studios.

One of my complaints about the series all along has been the lack of character development.  That continues to haunt the series.  The Kingdom Keepers are more types than real characters.  They’re developed enough that we care about the outcome of the story, but even after four books I don’t feel like I truly know them.

These books are targeted at ages 10 and up.  There are plenty of intense scenes that would scare kids much younger than that, so I think that age recommendation is about right.

I’m definitely in the “up” category of the age recommendation, but I love the books anyway.  Despite the flaws, they are pure magic for any Disney fan.  If you’ve read the previous books, you’ll definitely enjoy Kingdom Keepers IV: Power Play.

Once you've finished this book, you'll quickly move on to the rest of the Kingdom Keepers books in order.

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