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Review of Shannon Messenger’s KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES: UNLOCKED

Unlocked by Shannon Messenger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve never encountered a book quite like this, and Ms. Messenger is to be commended for her creative thinking. How else to review seven books of material without boring the reader with constant recaps? While also adding in details here and there that fill in the gaps and add new facets to the characters and world? It’s brilliant, and it makes you wonder why more writers with lengthy story arcs haven’t considered the concept. (Although the quizzes left much to be desired and demonstrated a distinct lack of creativity)

When I first grabbed the book and saw the “8.5” on the side, I wasn’t sure what to expect (particularly given the volume size). Who writes a HALF? But diving into the different sections, with the novella tagged onto the end made sense. It blended into the Lost City world and gave other creatives a chance to demonstrate their talents – something I’m always a fan of. Maybe I wasn’t interested in everything, but seeing how a writer’s mind works is always fascinating. And I’m definitely a sucker for gorgeous artwork.

That said, I’m not entirely sure the novella added much to the actual story arc. I understand that Ms. Messenger wanted the opportunity to switch viewpoints – something I feel readers would accept without a fight – but the actual plot was sorely lacking. A handful of chapters of teen angst; the necessary requirement of any middle-grade or YA series, it seems. And not terribly interesting. You could have easily chopped half off without losing important details. But I’ve come to accept that as the standard for this series.

Which makes me wince when I look at the weighty tome sitting on the shelf, ready to drag at my arm muscles as soon as I can dredge up my motivation to pick it up.

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