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Title: Keeper of the Lost Cities (#1)
Author: Shannon Messenger
Published: 2nd of October 2012 – Aladdin
Format: Hardback – 496 pages
“I would rather be punished for making the right decision than live with the guilt of making the wrong one for the rest of my life.” – Keeper of the Lost Cities
Hello Hello! How are you?
Today I’m bringing you a very long-awaited review for the September BOTM for the Middle Grade Marvels book club I co-host with Holly and Noly! I was so glad that we chose this book for September, I had it on my list for quite a long time and I knew it was a massive series that got a lot of hype.
I loved this book and had so much fun reading it with our wonderful members. I bought the second book in the series straight after I finished it and I hope to pick it up soon.
Twelve-year-old Sophie Foster has a secret. She’s a Telepath—someone who hears the thoughts of everyone around her. It’s a talent she’s never known how to explain.
Everything changes the day she meets Fitz, a mysterious boy who appears out of nowhere and also reads minds. She discovers there’s a place she does belong, and that staying with her family will place her in grave danger. In the blink of an eye, Sophie is forced to leave behind everything and start a new life in a place that is vastly different from anything she has ever known.
Sophie has new rules to learn and new skills to master, and not everyone is thrilled that she has come “home.” There are secrets buried deep in Sophie’s memory—secrets about who she really is and why she was hidden among humans—that other people desperately want. Would even kill for.
In this page-turning debut, Shannon Messenger creates a riveting story where one girl must figure out why she is the key to her brand-new world before the wrong person finds the answer first.
Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger is the first book in a 9-book middle grade fantasy series. In book one, we meet Sophie Foster, a girl who has never fit in, both in her personal/family life and at school. She is the best at everything but still has doubts and feels like an insider, that is until she meets a boy in a museum and her whole life is turned upside down.
I was so glad, almost giddy, that this book had been picked as the September BOTM for our Middle Grade Marvels book club, because I had heard so much about this series and I had been looking for a middle grade series a bit like Harry Potter, I knew that I was going to enjoy it, I just didn’t expect how different, unique and fun it was!
This book is first set in America, in the town where Sophie lives with her mum, dad and little sister (but do you think I can remember what town that was? No!). She meets Fitz and he takes her to a new place, I really don’t want to spoil anyone, so I won’t say anything aha!
The rest of this book is set in this “new place” and I really enjoyed learning about this, there are various “new places” that are places that we have all heard about before but have always assumed they are myths, well, in this book they are not and I loved how the author made these dead and forgotten places come to life.
Sophie: Sophie is the main character in this book and it took me quite a while to form an opinion of her, I’m still not sure if I have decided whether I really like her as a character or not too much. I think that as this is the first book and we are just getting to know her, there is a lot of potential for her to grow up and change, so I am hoping book 2 will help me decide. However, I really felt sorry for Sophie at some points in this book, there were other times where she handled herself well and I was almost proud of her. I have to just point out that there are quite a few (more so at the start) instances of trichotillomania induced by stress and anxiety and this kind of got to me a bit and bugged me. I also just have to say that Ella (her cuddle elephant) is so cute! I also really loved when Sophie could learn about her telepathy abilities!
Fitz: Fitz is kind of a secondary character in this book but I’m about 90% sure that he is going to be a lot more present and important in the books to come. I actually really liked Fitz, however, I will say that his and Sophie’s relationship is a bit ambiguous because he is a few years older than she is and I found that the crush and sort of awkward moments were a little bit weird in a middle grade book. I’m totally shipping them, but I don’t think it’s the best thing to have in a middle grade and she is only 12, so! But back to Fitz, I really enjoyed his character, he seems really mature and always comes to the rescue, I can’t wait to read more about him!
Dex: Dex is another of Sophie’s friends and at the start, I actually confused Dex and Fitz and didn’t know what was going on. Dex, however, really hates Fitz, and I think that there might be a love triangle between these three characters, I just hope it is well handled for the age group! Dex is rather intriguing, I feel like we got such an insight into Sophie, her thoughts, what’s happening and what people aren’t telling her, that we kind of forget about the secondary characters!
Edaline and Grady: Edaline and Grady are in my heart forever, wow, I didn’t think I would like them at the start, but they totally won me over. I can’t say much about who they are and why they are important in the story, but I love the relationship they have with Sophie, and even though it gets really rocky and a bit messy at one point, I loved how it ended, although I will say that I’m kind of a bit uneasy about how easy it was to replace someone/multiple people for others, but obviously, I can’t say anything more.
Della and Alden: Della and Alden are also really important characters that I think we will see much more of and I really liked them. They are Fitz and Biana’s parents and Sophie seems to be really important to them. I think Alden especially is going to be a crucial character in this series and I can’t wait to see more (I say that all the time but it’s true).
Elwin: Just a little side note on this character, he is a sort of doctor who always helps Sophie and treats her for her multiple injuries due to multiple incidents, she definitely has a way of attracting trouble! I thought Elwin was so, so kind, he is really a lovely and humble character, I just wanted to give him a massive hug.
Iggy: There is probably not much point to adding this character in my line up, but he is a little animal thing that Sophie befriends and honestly, it was so cute! I loved little Iggy, I don’t know why but I thought he deserved a mention and I hope we see more of him in the next books because he is cuteness incarnated!
There are quite a lot of themes in this book and I have a lot to say about everything because I think that this was such a unique and fun book, but for the sake of the people reading my post, I’m going to try to cut my thoughts short!
Family: I think that family is a really important part of this book, I hinted about something above and I have to say that there was a part that bothered me, I obviously can’t say what, but I think that the way the author replaced people for others was kind of weird. However, Sophie loves her family and she wants to do the best by them, I thought she was so brave and I was really sad for her. I really liked how other people were there for her, and I hope that she is able to find a semblance of family in the following books, but hey, if you are sensitive about family, I would be careful with this one.
Friendship: I love friendship in a book and we got quite a few different ones here. I think we can definitely say that Tiergan, Elwin and Alden are Sophie’s friends even though they are adults, and there is also a really strong friendship between Sophie and Fitz and Sophie and Dex, and also a little bit with Biana. I really got some Harry Potter vibes from these friends and I am looking forward to more!
Magic: I don’t know whether we would call this specifically magic or something else, but there is a really cool “magic” system in this book and I really enjoyed it. I hated all the licking of plaques on doors, that was just disgusting to me, but everything with the Pathfinder, the light jumping, the medicine, projecting thoughts, empathy, telepathy, I just really enjoyed it and I know that there is still so much to learn about Sophie’s abilities.
Lost cities: I don’t want to say too much, but as you can tell from the title, lost cities are an important part of this book, but I won’t say why or how. I really loved this part because I wasn’t expecting it and I think that it was a lovely addition to this plot.
Secrets: If you are not a fan of secrets and when characters hide things from others for whole books, then I don’t think this book is for you. Sophie is looking for so many answers and people just keep telling her “its nothing, don’t worry, it’s not your problem, we can deal with it” and I have to admit that this got a bit/very frustrating at the time, although now that I’ve finished book 1 and gotten more of a feel of this series/style, I don’t think I mind as much because I think we will get some massive reveals along the way!
Coming of age: This is definitely what I would call a coming of age book, Sophie is thrust into a new world, a new civilisation, a new language, new people around her, really complicated rules and regulations on top of all her problems, secrets that people are keeping from her and her own thoughts and emotions. But along the way, she grows up and she discovers who she really is, I am really excited to learn more about her!
Grief/loss: And finally, I just want to touch on the fact that there is some instances of grief and loss in this book. One of them is a spoiler so I can’t develop it, but I thought that this part was really saddening, so if you have suffered a loss or are grieving, I think I would tread with caution as it was fairly explicit and got to me a little bit. The second instance is because Edaline and Grady lost their daughter and they are still grieving over her, so there are some scenes where they are all struggling to come to terms with everything and I think it’s just an important thing to note.
Trigger Warnings: fire, lies, secrets, death, kidnapping, torture, drugging, trichotillomania, a form of loss/grief.
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
Overall, this was a very surprising book to me, I knew it was going to be good and that I was going to enjoy it, but I had no idea just how new and unique and interesting it was going to be. What I love about this book and series so far is that despite the plot holes and Sophie not knowing anything and people hiding things from her, I know that it’s going to have some really big plot twists, so I really liked how it was set up, even though I got a bit frustrated at times.
The writing style is actually very fluid, I liked it and it definitely kept me reading, the chapters were short, which I loved and they helped pace the book really well. Despite how big this book is for middle grade, I think I could easily have read it in a few hours or a day, so it’s not the kind of book that drags and takes forever to read.
The characters are still a little bit vague and there is a lot to know about them, I am looking forward to starting book 2 and getting a better feel of Sophie because I’m still a bit unsure, and I hope the characters I mentioned make more appearances throughout this series.
I gave this book 4 stars, I really enjoyed it and despite some little hiccups, weird moments, awkward moments and maybe some things that could have been improved, I really liked it and I am definitely going to continue this series as I believe it has so much potential. I would definitely recommend this book to any age (starting from MG age), as long as you make sure that you are not bothered by the triggers.
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed this post, see you soon, stay safe,
Atmosphere – 7.5
Start – 6.5
Pacing – 8
Ending – 7
Characters – 6.5
Theme – 7
Style – 7
Total = 49.5
If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UK – Amazon FR – Amazon US – AbeBooks (affiliate link) – The Book Depository (affiliate link) – Audible FR (affiliate link) – Waterstones – Barnes and Noble – Audible UK – Scrib’d – Kobo