So, my reading goal for the year is to go back through and finish all the series I’ve started over the years on my reading list. Well, one of them and the one that will take the most time. The other is to also read those pesky personal development books I keep adding to the list and never reading but that’s a goal for another day.
However, in starting this goal, I am remembering perhaps why I stepped away from the first series on my list.
I am a Disney geek. You know this. I know this. So, it goes without saying that I pounced onto reading the Kingdom Keepers series by Ridley Pearson when it started. Never mind that I am clearly NOT the target audience, it was awesome. The idea that these kids, who were originally simply to be hologram guides for visitors to the parks were also designed to cross over at night and do battle with the Overtakers AKA Disney villains because, people, THEY ARE ALL REAL! The villains, the heroes, they all are real and actually exist in the parks. But, the villains were getting a bit uppity (as they do) and so Imagineers brought in the Kingdom Keepers to fight them.
So, awesome right? And it was, I devoured the first books in the series and then once I was caught up to where they were, added the 5th book to my list and promptly forgot to go back. So now I am 4 books behind and remembering why I perhaps didn’t go running for the 5th book when it was released.
So, I have issues with the middle books in series like this. The kids are around 14-15 years old and they are just well…annoying. Whiny, making stupid decisions, in-fighting with friends they’ve always gotten along with, making drama where none really needs to exists etc. Essentially, I call this the Harry Potter 5th Book Syndrome (tell me you didn’t want to reach in and smack him repeatedly in Order of the Phoenix and I will call you out on it). Now, this doesn’t mean the author is doing anything wrong. In fact, when you can write a believably bratty teenager that the reader is still somehow rooting for, you’re doing something very right. But, it can be annoying to read and the Kingdom Keepers series has FIVE such characters with a few ancillary characters in the same age range. That is a lot of teenage drama to pack into a book that is already packed with other problems coming at the characters.
And that is exactly what I found when I picked up Shell Game (Kingdom Keepers #5). Five characters that are in that awkward 14-15 year range, their relationships with their parents, with their friends, with each other are all changing rapidly and they still have these pesky Overtakers, now on the inaugural voyage of the Disney Dream through the Panama Canal, to deal with on top of all the rest. I think, what bugged me the most about this book is…it dragged. Like, I skimmed a good quarter of it. Pearson is best when he keeps it fast and to the point with his narrative. This one was, I think now that I am halfway through the 6th book, setting up the next book that it really wasn’t much fun to read since nothing was really solved in the end. Also, the book was a bit too much of a commercial for the Disney Cruise Line at times (and as someone who will hop on the DCL at any time if she can, that is saying something), to the point that it dragged the narrative down. I still enjoyed the characters, all five annoying teenagers really in need of a big sister to give some much needed advice, and also the story is still great and I like the idea that the archive is somehow important to the fight (which is headed to the West Coast where the Disney Archive is conveniently located). And hey, the book ended on a massive cliffhanger so no matter how annoyed I was, I still immediately reached for the next book to find out what happened. Mission accomplished for Pearson at that point (and one of the bonuses to being a few books behind in a series, you never had to wait to find out what happens next!)
Book 6 so far has been a better paced book so it’s clear book 5 suffered from having to set the stage and not have a conclusion of its own. I have two more books in this series to go at that point but we’ll see how I’m feeling. One thing I also promised myself was if when I start reading the next book, if I don’t like it then end of line for me and that series. It’s good to be able to make up the rules for a goal as you go!