Friday, August 9, 2013

Book Review: Keeper of Reign by Emma Right

Title:  Keeper of Reign
Author:  Emma Right
Genre:  Middle-grade fantasy
Series:  Keeper of Reign #1
Publisher:  Self-published through Telemachus Press
Pages:  340
Acquired via:  Review copy sent by publicist


Synopsis from  Sixteen year old Jules Blaze, heir of a Keeper, suspects his family hides a forgotten secret. It's bad enough that his people, the Elfies of Reign, triggered a curse which reduced the entire inhabitants to a mere inch centuries ago. All because of one Keeper who failed his purpose. Even the King's Books, penned with the Majesty's own blood, did not help ward off this anathema. Now, Gehzurolle, the evil lord, and his armies of Scorpents, seem bent on destroying Jules and his family. Why? Gehzurolle's agents hunt for Jules as he journeys into enemy land to find the truth. Truth that could save him and his family, and possibly even reverse the age-long curse. Provided Jules doesn't get himself killed first.

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Keeper of Reign is the first book of a new fantasy series being marketed as young-adult.  I would definitely say that this seems like a book meant for middle-grade readers instead.  The main character, Jules, may be sixteen years old, but he sounds much more like a twelve-year-old.  I gave the book to my eleven-year-old sister to see what she thought, and she agreed that Jules sounded closer to her own age.

I really wanted to like this book more than I did.  I thought it had a great idea behind it, and it could have been an epic fantasy adventure.

What I liked
  • The pacing  -  This book is definitely fast-paced and full of action.  It made the book a quick read.  There weren't any moments where the story started to drag.
  • The world-building  -  I'll admit that there isn't a lot of world-building because there's so much action, but what's there is good.  I personally love when an author builds up their setting throughout the story, rather than write a detailed (and slow) history in one of the early chapters.  That's how the author handled the world-building here.  She kept adding in details and history of Reign during the story, so the more you read, the more you were able to visualize the setting.
  • The concept  -  I think the idea for this book is great.  A fantasy world where the different creatures are suffering from a curse that's shrunk them to the size of acorns.  An evil tyrant seeking to destroy the Keepers that can overthrow him.  The friend-turned-traitor who's torn between doing what's actually right and doing what feels right.  All of these are classic elements of a good fantasy adventure.
What I disliked
  • The formatting  -  The book is 340 pages long, and instead of it having twenty or thirty chapters, it's made up of 99 chapters.  Each chapter is between two to five pages long.  This set-up bothered me, because it made character development almost non-existent.  With chapters that short, there was only time for action.  This kind of book would be good for people who aren't big readers because they need constant movement to keep their attention.  My one sister, who isn't a big reader, said that this format of short, action-packed chapters would be better for her.
  • The melodrama & predictability  -  And with such short chapters, there was plenty of melodrama.  Each chapter had to end with a mini cliffhanger, which was unnecessary for me.  It just felt over-the-top at times, especially the last few chapters.  Also, certain aspects of the story were predictable; I could see them coming, and therefore, I felt no surprise at the plot twists.
  • The grammatical errors  -  Major pet peeve here.  I know I'm not perfect.  There may even be some errors/typos in this review.  But there's a big difference between a book and a blog entry/review.  I think it's way more important to triple-check for grammatical mistakes in a book.  One or two might not be so bad, but if there are multiple errors throughout the book, it distracts from the story.
  • The writing style  -  The writing tended to be choppy, and the dialogue was sometimes stilted and cliched.  Because of the choppiness, I got a little lost a few times and had to go back a page or two to see if I missed something.  Also, the little bit of character development that was there, especially of the secondary characters, was extremely short and abrupt.
I honestly wanted to love this book, but there were too many things that kept it from happening.  I think someone who isn't into reading epic fantasy with lots of detail would love this book.  It would keep their attention with its quick pace, short chapters, and constant action.  But I personally love those epic fantasy books like The Lord of the Rings, filled with lots of descriptions and details and character development.  If Keeper of Reign had focused more on the characters and less on the cliffhangers, I think it would have been a really good book.

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