Thursday, July 11, 2013

Book Review: Kingdom Keepers V - Shell Game by Ridley Pearson

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Suspensful action scenes
Cons: Plot doesn't advance or resolve much of anything
The Bottom Line
Battle continues
With little forward progress
Only fans should read

Kingdom Keepers Versus the Overtakers - Disney Cruises Round

Several years ago, I started reading the Kingdom Keepers series.  A group of kids who fight Disney villains in Walt Disney World?  The premise is right up my ally.  Unfortunately, I feel like the author is now stretching the series, and Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game just proves to be more of the same.

The series revolves around 5 kids who were models for DHI’s, Disney Host Interactives, holograms that guide guests through the parks.  However, they soon find themselves crossing over in their sleep, enlisted in a battle against a collection of famous Disney villains knows as the Overtakers who are trying to take over the parks.  At this point, so much has been established in this world that you need to start at the beginning or you will be lost.

Life is never easy when you are a Kingdom Keeper.  Finn and the others are rotating shifts guarding the computer base that houses their DHI’s and other vital computer information for Disney World.  Meanwhile, the Overtakers have stolen a journal that contains vital information on the creation of one of the worst Disney villains of all time.

But that fight will have a wait since the Kingdom Keepers are set to sail on the Disney Dream as it undergoes a passage from Florida through the Panama Cannel to California.  This two week cruise is going to be fun and games with minimal appearances – except that the cruise has hardly left port before the Overtakers try to kill them.  Can these kids figure out what their latest scheme is?

Now don’t get my wrong, the action scenes are still great.  Any time there is a direct confrontation between the Kingdom Keepers and the Overtakers, you can’t turn the pages fast enough.

The problem comes in other areas.  Take the plot for this book.  I’ve finished it, and I think I know what it was.  It meanders for a while and the goals of the kids seem to shift somewhere along the way.  It doesn’t help that random characters pop up for no reason with no explanation.  That certainly needed an editor.  And the ending would work if this were the first of a two part TV show and not the ending of a 550 page book.

The characters have never been a strong point of the series, and that continues here.  They are developed just enough that we care about them, but they are hardly complex.  Since the series is aimed at middle grade readers, I’m sure that’s a minor issue.  What did bother me were the personalities that Finn and Philby, another character, are showing.  Finn is jealous and constantly worried about being replace as leader.  Philby, on the other hand, is being bossy and a bit of a know it all.  This has been building for a book or so, and - guess what - none of this gets resolved here, either.

I guess my problem is it feels like I’ve read a part of a story with no end in sight and no attempt to resolve anything here.  The book just stops without really tying much of anything up.

I realize I’m sounding harsh, and I am disappointed.  But I really do enjoy the series and the wild behind the scenes ride it takes us on.  I just hope that the series is wrapped up soon so we can get some closure.

If you are new to the series, don’t start here.  You won’t really understand much of what is happening.  But fans will certainly want to get the next chapter in the saga.  I just wish that Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game felt like it advanced the story.

There is more magic in other books in the Kingdom Keepers series.

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