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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
Publisher: Aladdin
Publication Date: October 2nd, 2012
Page Count: 496 pages
Format: ARC
Source: Local Bookstore
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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.
I'd been having people tell me to read Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger for awhile now, and I was in need of a quick read so I finally picked it up. Let me just say it was nothing like I expected it to be. Don't get me wrong, I fully understood that that I was reading a Middle Grade novel, which I usually enjoy, and I knew the themes and characters would be less mature than most young adult novels, but Keeper was just too.... dull. Also, there were way too many similarities to Harry Potter for me to chalk it up to mere coincidence. I mean, I honestly felt like I was reading a Harry Potter fanfiction knock off or something. I think Keeper of the Lost Cities was okay, I'd recommend it to a younger reader, maybe 8 or 9, but by the end I just had too many issues with it to enjoy it for myself.

Seriously, Harry Potter is one of the greater works of fiction from most of our childhoods. The series has sparked many of our passions for reading, and it's a hard read to live up to. Keeper of the Lost Cities has too much of a resemblance to Harry Potter for me to ignore that. Let me break it down for you:
Harry Sophie grows up in beautiful Privet Drive San Diego only to find out she's not actually a muggle human and has grown up an orphaned wizard elf. She discovers she has magical abilities and the wise Dumbledore Alden has her enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry Foxfire. Harry Sophie then meets Fred and George Weasly Dex who is a total trickster, playing jokes on all the popular kids in school. Dex is also incredibly skilled at potions alchemy in which Sophie is not. Sophie manages to be great at almost everything, except for that and Professor Snape Lady Galvin absolutely hates her for it. Sophie also discovers she's an excellent Quidditch Splotch player and manages to not only win, but pass out during her first game. Sophie also learns that she's destined for greatness and has a vast amount of magical skills that no other wizards elves can master, including having the main role of defeating He Who Shall Not Be Named a rogue elf who is destroying the world. Oh, did I also mention that Sophie can talk to snakes animals?

Was that clear enough? I promise, the comparisons become more and more obvious the longer you read. Also, the writing isn't particularly clever or witty or elegant or poetic or anything that would make this story a more intelligent read. The dialogue is choppy and uncomfortable and the characters are bland and predictable. I'd say it's a fluffier version of Harry Potter and something you would want to give to a younger child who may not be ready for the more mature themes and darker events that occur in the world of witchcraft.

And another thing. The romance is creepy. Like... really unnaturally creepy. On Sophie's part, it's normal. She has a crush on an older boy (she's twelve and he's fifteen,) but there's also the fifteen-year-old's best friend who has an obvious crush on Sophie. WEIRD. Like, in what world is it natural for a boy two years older (he's fourteen because he was held back!?) to have a crush on a girl who's prepubescent?! It's not like Sophie's dressing seductively and enchanting him with her intense beauty. Although, she is described on more than one occasion to be incredible looking. So she's a sixth grader who looks like a high school chick I guess. Barf.

With that said, I read the book all the way through so that has to count for something. I'd give it to younger readers who are fans of light fiction and aren't particularly advanced readers. I definitely wouldn't recommend it to older readers, or those of us who are adoring Harry Potter fans because you will be disappointed and pulling hair after the countless comparisons you'll undoubtedly make. Don't risk this one if you can help it. 


  1. I love Harry Potter so much that I'm pretty sure I'm not going to love this. I remember seeing you and Elena tweeting about it, so I definitely will consider myself warned away. It's too bad though because it sounded really good too!

  2. Woah that is a lot of similiarities to Harry Potter! That's a shame too because Harry Potter is just so epic I wouldn't want another exactly like it. I have heard a bit about this book and thought it sounded cute. However I tend to steer clear of MG because it's just not my thing. Also that's a little weird about the relationship thing. That would definitely turn me off to the story. Great review Anna!

  3. *sigh* I despise copy cats with a passion. Thanks for taking the bullet for this one, Anna. If I wanted to read Harry Potter again, I'd go grab it from my closet shelf.

  4. Haha, your review made me laugh. I've been on the fence about reading this one. Sometimes I love MG books (Harry, Percy J, and the like) but something was holding me back from this one. After reading your review I'm pretty sure I won't be reading it, at least not any time soon. Thanks for the great review!!

    Courtney @ Fuzzy.Coffee.Books

  5. Ughh...what a shame...but thanks for making me laugh while reading your review!

  6. Oh noes! One of my biggest pet peeves is finding way too many similarities with books like Twilight or Harry potter so this one would probably be set on fire. It's a shame though since I saw the cover reveal I've been wanting to read it it sounded like a really fun, adventurous MG novel. But I love MG usually because they're so charming and filled with action so I doubt I would get much more than you did from this one. At least your review was amusing. "It's not like Sophie's dressing seductively and enchanting him with her intense beauty" BAHAHAHA *dies*

  7. Ugh, I get what you mean. I really hate it when an author basically rips off another author, and what makes it worse is that it's J.K. Rowling, one of my all-time favorite authors. I've actually been meaning to read this book for a while, but I'll probably give it a miss now... Well, at least I got a laugh out of reading your review!

    -Jai @ Ficlov


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