Sunday, August 16, 2015

Book Review: The Syndrome by Ridley Pearson (Kingdom Keepers #8)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Better character development in a compelling story
Cons: A couple of narration issues and some sloppy editing
The Bottom Line:
Between series books
Tells page turning story that
Leaves us wanting more

It Turns Out the Kingdom Keepers Aren’t Ready for Their Happily Ever After

While I have complained about a couple of books in the series, I really did enjoy the Kingdom Keepers books.  Hey, I am a DisNerd after all.  So when Ridley Pearson announced that he was working on a sequel series, I knew I’d have to read it.  The Syndrome is actually a transition book designed to bridge the gap to the new series.  I just read it, and I’m definitely hooked on this next chapter.

Not familiar with the franchise?  The Kingdom Keepers are a group of kids who work to protect the Disney Kingdom from the Overtakers, a group of Disney villains out to destroy the magic.  They do this by crossing over to the parks as holograms while they sleep.  Joining the main core of five ordinary kids are Amanda and Jess, two “Fairlies” who have special powers.  Confused by all this?  It does make sense if you go back and read the earlier books, although the bare essentials are explained here.  There are some spoilers for earlier books, however, so jump in here with caution.

As this book opens, Amanda and Jess are settling into their new lives in California.  They are both in Disney’s school for future Imaginers and really enjoying their new lives.  However, it’s been a few days since Amanda has heard from Finn or any of the other Kingdom Keepers.  Naturally, this worries her so she takes all their combined savings to fly back to Orlando.  When she tries to reconnect with her friends, she is stonewalled by their parents who are clearly hiding something.

Meanwhile, Jess has had one of her visions.  Along with some images from Disneyland, she also sees men capturing a young woman, someone who looks a lot like Amanda.  What do those images mean?  Can Jess find a way to protect Amanda?  What is going on with the Kingdom Keepers?

Anyone familiar with the franchise can easily guess the answer to that last question based on the title, but it isn’t too far into the book before we get that confirmed.  The whys take up much of the rest of the story and provide another great story.  There are some wonderful complications along the way to the climax which has some nice twists to it but definitely leaves us with plenty of question to launch into the new series.

In the past, I’ve complained about the character development or lack of it.  That actually wasn’t the case here.  With a smaller cast of characters, we got to know them better than in previous books.  I loved seeing how Amanda and Jess have grown and continue to grow in this adventure.

Of course, it helps that we get the story from their first person points of view.  In fact, there are four characters who share first person narrating duties.  It’s not something done too regularly, but with the headings when the point of view changed, I found it easy enough to follow.

Of course, this does contribute one of my complaints about the book.  There are times that we get the same scene from a different character’s point of view and it doesn’t seem to add much to the narrative.  Those rehashes could have been easily cut without hurting anything.

Another issue involves the timing of some scenes.  Especially early on, it seems like we are getting scenes from different characters next to each other that feels like they should be hours apart.  Maybe it was just the time zone, but it threw me off.

The final issue was the poor editing.  Mistakes happen.  I get it.  But this book had multiple instances of words out or their mixed up order being.  I can let a couple roll off without bothering me, but this was bad enough I had to point it out.

On the other hand, the scenes in the parks are top notch as always.  This has consistently been my favorite part of the franchise, and this book didn’t disappoint in the slightest.

So Kingdom Keeper fans will be pleased with The Syndrome.  It will leave them wanting to read more.  In fact, I’m going to have to make time for the first book in this new series (which is already out) soon so I can figure out just exactly what is happening now.

If the premise sounds appealing, it really will be best to read the Kingdom Keepers Adventures in order.

This review is part of this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.


  1. I've heard of this series but was unsure what is was about. As a Disney geek I am going to take a look. I am though not a fan of multiple first person point of views. It sounds like the positives outweigh this one negative. Thanks for featuring.

    1. This is the first book in the series that has used first person at all. All the other have been third person. As a fellow DisNerd, you definitely need to read the first one.

  2. Ooh, this sounds super cool! I like how the kids work together to protect the Disney kingdom from the Disney villains. I'm a huge Disney fan, and don't think I can wait to read this one. Thanks!

    1. This series is a Disney fan's dream for sure.

  3. Thanks for the review. I hadn't heard of this series before.

    1. You're welcome. If you give it a try, I hope you enjoy.

  4. The first three books in the series did well, but then I think it went on too long, and I stopped buying the books. I love Pearson, but I wish he would move on to something else.

    1. Yes, the series did definitely drag in the middle. Don't get me started on the TWO books set on the ships. But book seven and this book were much better.