“KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES by Shannon Messenger is one of those middle grade novels that I can see being well-loved. Much more of a straight-up fantasy than the synopsis led me to expect, I highly enjoyed the mythology, setting and characters in this nail-biting mystery.
Sophie is basically a genius. Only thirteen, she’s almost finished high school – and can read minds. After meeting a mysterious boy on a class trip to a museum, Sophie finds herself part of a whole new world, with new friends, foster family and a brand-new school. The bulk of the story takes place in another world, hidden from our own “real” world, where there are majestic cities like, oh, Atlantis. Yupp, Atlantis. And there are elves. Think Lord of the Rings type elves – it’s pretty neat. Sophie gets to attend a school where she takes such subjects as Alchemy, the Universe, gym (of course) and tutoring on how to control and use her mind-reading skills. While I really liked Sophie – she’s smart, curious, kind, loving, a little naive and reckless at times (but what tween isn’t?) – as the book continues it seems as though she is almost treading on all-powerful territory. Now there is a bunch of mysterious backstory surrounding Sophie that she and the other main characters are trying to figure out, so I’m thinking that subsequent books will explain her powers. I’m interested to see where it all leads.
The mystery of Sophie, these crazy fires in the human world, and some incidences in the hidden world is well spread out through the story with lots of interesting hints and dropped information. And no one is spared from the questions – I was wary of all adult characters and most of the teens throughout the whole book, trusting no one. Even finished, I still don’t trust half of them! There seem to be two different secret groups that have interests in Sophie, and any character could belong to one group or the other. While I think there are a few I am definitely safe to trust, others are still on the suspect list (at least for the reader, if not Sophie), and I can’t wait to find out if I’m right or wrong in guessing loyalties. The mystery behind Sophie being hidden in the “real” world and her past is the driving force behind KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES. There are some interesting action scenes, but most of the story is low-key and focuses on Sophie at school learning about her new home, powers, friends/family and trying to figure everything out.
I enjoyed reading KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES by Shannon Messenger and will definitely be picking up the sequel. I was a little disappointed in the climactic kidnapping scene (in which Sophie is mostly unconscious and conveniently rescued after days) but felt it fit with the over-all tone of the story, and Sophie does get to kick some butt running around France. I think Sophie as a character and all the questions surrounding her will endear the book to many (it did to me!), and the friendship-with-possibilities-for-more relationships between Sophie and new pals Dex and Fitz is very well done – perfect for the book and targeted audience age. With some great descriptions of new worlds, fantastical creatures and magic, KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES is a story that keeps you reading and is over too quickly – I would have been all too happy to keep reading about Sophie.”