Review

PUBLICATION DATE: JUNE 1, 2012

F

ifteen year old Cody Clemenson is a rather ordinary teenager.  He’s not an outstanding student nor is he a gifted athlete nor is he exceptionally popular.  His best friend Jade helps him through school and provides his social life.  Their joint love of books frequently takes them to Wesley’s Amazing Used and Rare Antique Book Store.  The store’s owner, Wesley, is a bit bizarre and provides excellent fodder for Cody’s active imagination.  So when Cody finds a hidden door in Wesley’s store, containing an inscription written in blood, it’s hard for him to walk away.  Expecting the door to lead to a sordid chamber of death, Cody instead finds a room filled with bizarre items and an ancient book.  He can’t read the words in the book, but that doesn’t stop him from trying.  But by trying to read the ancient text he unleashes a terrifying beast with a single purpose—to kill the book keeper who is now Cody.  His curiosity hasn’t just put himself in danger it also initiates the beginning of a new war that threatens not only the world as Cody knows it, but a hidden world under the earth.  With a fun story line and some classic fantasy elements, Legend of the Book Keeper is a great start to what looks to be an exciting new series by debut author Daniel Blackaby.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked this book up.  Since it is a debut novel, I anticipated an awkward start and perhaps some overwriting.  I certainly wasn’t prepared for a novel that flows easily from the beginning and maintains a strong steady pace throughout.  I am actually quite impressed by the fluid writing as well as the balance between character, story, and theme.  This really is an excellent first offering by Daniel Blackaby.

Legend of the Book Keeper is definitely more suitable for teens than adults.  As an adult, I enjoyed the story, however, there are parts that will hold greater appeal to a younger audience.  For example, I’m not impressed with bugger references and there are some childish acts, and immature dialogue between the two main characters, that I can certainly see teens finding humorous.  In most cases, these elements serve to make for a more authentic story, but as an adult I had to roll my eyes a few times and remind myself that hopefully these characters will grow out of it.

Speaking of characters, I found both Cody and Jade to be well written and easy to relate to.  I like that their relationship oftentimes has a teenage awkwardness.  Also Cody makes some unbelievably dumb decisions, but it’s balanced out by a longing heart that simply wants to be more than he believes himself to be.   While the protagonist are well written, I want more from the villains.  They lack intelligence and direction and need more complexity to become truly engaging personalities.

Legend of the Book Keeper does struggle with believability issues.  Some of these problems could have been resolved by answering a few questions.  For example, where did Jade and Cody get their money and how much did they have?  Why is Jade Cody’s friend?  It’s obvious why Cody values Jade, but not so much the other way around?  Additionally, there are some situations that would have benefited from more imaginative resolutions.  Perhaps teens can suspend their disbelief, but I didn’t buy into a few of the decoy and escape techniques by Jade and Cody—they were too simple.  I hope future books in The Lost City Chronicles will provide some better thought out and more believable problem solving schemes.

It’s obvious that Blackaby has a love and passion for the fantasy genre and includes some familiar story elements.  At times this book has a slight C.S. Lewis or Ted Dekker feel by the way the author incorporated spiritual themes through allegory.  It’s not to the extent of the Chronicles of Narnia, but there are some obvious allegorical elements that serve to highlight spiritual ideas.  The themes blend nicely with the story and show a real talent on the author’s part in providing spiritual concepts without interrupting the book’s flow.

Overall I enjoyed Legend of the Book Keeper.  It does have some issues, but this certainly looks to be a great start to The Lost City Chronicles series.  It does not have a particularly tidy ending, so now I’ll impatiently wait for the next one.