Monday, November 30, 2009

The Kingdom Keepers YA novels

Last year I picked up an autographed copy of Ridley Pearson's THE KINGDOM KEEPERS: DISNEY AFTER DARK at Borders. I'm sort of a sucker for autographed books; if I even suspect I might like the author or content, I usually snap it up.

I later posted a review on, and here is the text of that review:

THE KINGDOM KEEPERS by Ridley Pearson is a young adult book about a group of kids who are chosen to "become" holographic guides at the Magic Kingdom. But somehow their holographic existence begins to sort of intrude upon their real life existence. And they find out from an old Imagineer that the Disney villains are coming to life, more or less, and are gaining energy enough to really make some trouble for the parks and for the world at large.

This sounded to me like a promising premise, and I think it could have been - if Pearson had not left SO MANY darned loose ends and introduced so much stuff that just didn't seem to go anywhere in the end. One of the worst ended books I've ever read. I had to go back and reread the last couple chapters to see if I missed something, but I didn't. It was just a bad ending. Very fast read, I probably knocked it off in a couple of hours total reading time. I don't know if the author just got sloppy, or was introducing a bunch of plot elements to set up sequels (which have come and which I haven't read...but may). As I say, it had promise, but didn't live up to it in the end. I really wanted to like this book more than I did.

As you can see, it wasn't my favorite book. I haven't read many young adult novels (though as my son gets older, I am pretty sure that is going to change), so I don't know if it is common to plot and write this loosely. I've read other stuff by Pearson, and found his other work to be okay. Not great, but not bad, either. Readable.

When my son read this book, though, he zipped right through it and loved it. So we picked up KINGDOM KEEPERS 2: DISNEY AT DAWN for him this weekend. As he is engrossed in his first Harry Potter novel at this time, I picked up his new book and read it. Like the first book, it didn't take me much time to finish it. I started it Saturday and finished it Sunday, in limited reading time.

All in all, I'd say that the second book is a much better book than the first. While loose ends were left in this book, the main plot points were all tied up much more neatly than in the first. Those loose ends actually made me want to read a sequel this time.

In this one, the DHI kids (if you haven't read the first, DHI is an acronym for "Disney Host Interactive") are back, and once again are pitted against some of the Disney villians, who have sort of come to life and are trying to get some sort of existence beyond the Parks in Florida. This time, most of the action takes place in the Animal Kingdom, where Disney is preparing holographic animal hosts, just like these teens are for Magic Kingdom. Wayne, the old Imagineer, is once again on hand to provide guidance and technical assistance through the Virtual Magic Kingdom (VMK) world, which was closed by Disney when they realized that these villains were using it to gain a level of control over the parks themselves.

The first book and this book were both really good ideas. In my view, however, the first did not execute the idea well at all. The second book executes the ideas much better. Maybe it isn't the best book I've ever read, but it's pretty good.

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