Today is twice as good as most days because A) it’s Friday and B) I get to talk about one of my new favorite books! I listened to The Keeper of the Lost Cities audiobook while my work was closed, and I am blown away by how good this book is. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series! So, today I’m going to share with you 5 reasons I loved The Keeper of the Lost Cities, and I hope you will find at least one reason that encourages you to read it, too!
About the Book
Title: Keeper of the Lost Cities (Keeper of the Lost Cities #1)
Author: Shannon Messenger
Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. She’s skipped multiple grades and doesn’t really connect with the older kids at school, but she’s not comfortable with her family, either. The reason? Sophie’s a Telepath, someone who can read minds. No one knows her secret – at least, that’s what she thinks….
But the day Sophie meets Fitz, a mysterious (and adorable) boy, she learns she’s not alone. He’s a Telepath too, and it turns out the reason she has never felt at home is that, well…she isn’t. Fitz opens Sophie’s eyes to a shocking truth, and she is forced to leave behind her family for a new life in a place that is vastly different from what she has ever known.
But Sophie still has secrets, and they’re buried deep in her memory for good reason: The answers are dangerous and in high demand. What is her true identity, and why was she hidden among humans? The truth could mean life or death – and time is running out.
- World building – It only took a few pages for me to be completely sucked into this world. Keep in mind, I do not usually read fantasy books and it’s even more rare that I enjoy them, so unusual worlds tend to have absolutely no draw for me. This one, however, is a a rare jewel! Messenger takes the concept of “lost cities,” places which once supposedly existed on Earth but no longer do, and uses a wonderful mix of pre-existing mythology and entirely new ideas to create enchanting places that I want to visit and love learning about alongside Sophie.
- Unique Abilities – This goes along with the worldbuilding element, but it is impressive enough to warrant its own point. Many of the characters have unique abilities, and in this world, it’s expected that most people will develop some sort of special talent which could be construed as a super power. However, for the most part these aren’t your default abilities. So far I haven’t met anyone who can fly, no one with super strength, and only a few who can be invisible. Instead, there is a character who can communicate with technology, some who can conjure items from one room into another, and some who “phase” in and out as they walk (I’m still figuring out how exactly that is useful and what it means). The possibilities seem to be excitingly endless!
- The wordplay & importance of names – All of the names of places and most (if not all) of the things brought in as part of the fantasy element give the reader clues as to their purpose, destiny, or use. Some of these are obvious (like the stars that are named after different types of metals), and some are very subtle. I came across an explanation of some of the characters’ names, and it is fascinating! I cannot wait to see how these come into play later in the series.
- The kids are still treated as kids, even though they will one day be expected to do great things (like save and direct the world) – A problem that I have with a lot of YA fantasy is the way it treats children and teens as if they should have the knowledge, maturity, and abilities of adults. This series does not do that. Yes, Sophie is special, and in some ways she is stronger than some of the adults in her life. But she is still treated like a twelve-year-old. The adults in her life offer helpful and appropriate guidance, it’s a big deal when she has to miss school, and more than once it is pointed out that the weight of saving the world should not be on her shoulders. She (and the other young protagonists) are special, but they have a support system and are not saving the world all on their own.
- Friendship and familial relationships are treated as important / Sophie doesn’t get away with disrespecting her parents – The opposite of this is another issue that I have with a lot of fantasy, especially when it is written at the young adult or middle-grade level. Thankfully, Sophie respects the authority figures in her life, and they are worth respecting. I’ve heard rumors that later books in this series focus a lot on romance, but thankfully there is none in this first book. There are just middle-schoolers who want to make friends and are figuring out how the world works and their place in it.
Have you read this series? I could easily list several more reasons why I enjoyed this book, and I hope that the rest of the series lives up to the high bar that this one has set!
If you haven’t read this series, have you read any good books recently? What is the best thing you have read since your area went into quarantine?
Until the next chapter,