Book Review: The Kingdom Keepers: Power Play by Ridley Pearson


Author: Ridley Pearson
Title: The Kingdom Keepers: Power Play
Publication Info: New York : Disney/Hyperion Books, c2011
Summary/Review:

I was disappointed in the previous installment of the Kingdom Keepers, but the series regains its footing in the fourth book.  The narrative is less bloated and even when the Keepers hit a snag in one of their moonlight adventures in the Disney Parks, it feels plot-driven rather than a dead end.

There are five Kingdom Keepers, with Finn the leader getting most of the attention, and Philby growing to be the co-leader.  The other Keepers and the two Fairlies, Amanda and Jess, have had a lot to do in previous books, but this is the first book in which Willa has a big part, and it’s really great to see her character grow.

Willa is also present for a new factor in this books when she meets (and is helped) by Ariel, the Little Mermaid.  The villains – known as the Overtakers – have featured prominently in the series, but this is the first time a good Disney character plays a role with hints that more good characters are looking for a leader to drive them to action.  Later, Minnie and Pluto play a big part. It’s very bold for Pearson to wait until the fourth book to introduce this game-changing factor to the novels!

Rating: ***1/2

Book Review: The Kingdom Keepers: Disney in Shadow by Ridley Pearson


Author: Ridley Pearson
Title: The Kingdom Keepers: Disney in Shadow
Publication Info: New York : Disney Editions, c2010.
Summary/Review:

In the third books of the Kingdom Keepers series, the story is starting to wear thin.  This book is much longer than its predecessors and feels bloated.  There are a number of false starts to getting the plot moving that don’t really add anything as far as character beats go.  There’s also a love triangle crisis among Finn-Amanda-Charlene that comes out of nowhere and seems unnecessary.

Nevertheless, when the action gets going, the Kingdom Keepers stay up all night fighting the Overtakers in Epcot in attempt to rescue their mentor Wayne.  The action culminates in a full-on tech rehearsal of Fantasmic! where they battle of good versus evil is very real.  I think the final sequence stands well by itself and if the novel were trimmed down to simply support it, the novel would be a much better addition to the series.

 

Rating: **1/2

Book Review: The Kingdom Keepers: Disney At Dawn by Ridley Pearson


Author: Ridley Pearson
Title: The Kingdom Keepers: Disney At Dawn
Publication Info: New York : Disney Editions, c2008.
Summary/Review:

Finn, Charlene, Maybeck, Willa, and Philby return for another adventure as the five young teenagers who defend Walt Disney World from the villainous Overtakers.  The story begins with a parade celebrating the return of the kids’ DHIs (holographic hosts who work in the Magic Kingdom), but the appearance of their friends Amanda and Jez forebodes dark times ahead in the Most Magical Place on Earth.

Amanda and Jez are orphans with magical powers only just being revealed to the rest of the Kingdom Keepers, and the are known as Fairlies, as in “Fairly Humans.”  When Jez is abducted the Kingdom Keepers not only need to find her but also avoid falling asleep and having their DHIs trapped in the Overtakers’ new server.  They spend the day at the Animal Kingdom struggling to keep awake as they solve these mysteries.  Charlene gets a particularly good boost in her character as she gets to disguise herself as DeVine, the camouflaged, stilt-walking performer, for reconnaissance purposes.

Aaaaaaaaand, the novel ends on a cliffhanger, meaning that my daughter and I will most certainly be reading the third book in the series.

Rating: ***1/2

Book Review: The Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark by Ridley Pearson


Author: Ridley Pearson
Title: The Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark
Publication Info: New York : Disney Editions, c2005.
Summary/Review:

This book is the first in a series of adventure and mystery children’s novels set in the Walt Disney World theme parks that I’m reading to my Disney fan daughter.  The basic gist is that five young teenagers have been used as models for holographic theme park guides in Disney’s Magic Kingdom known as Disney Host Interactive (DHI).  A simple one-time acting gig unexpectedly leads the kids to start crossing over in their sleep and appearing in the Magic Kingdom in the form of their holograms.  An old and mysterious Imagineer named Wayne tells them that they were created to counter the characters of Disney villains who are coming to life and trying to take over the parks (and thus known as the Overtakers).

The five teens kind of have a Scooby Doo crew crossed with a Disney Channel Original Movie vibe.  Finn is the leader and the main protagonist of the book.  Charlene is an athletic cheerleader who is often frightened about participating in the adventures. Maybeck, a tall African-American, is the sceptic of the group and typically responds with sarcasm.  Willa, possibly of Native American background, is more positive and is good at working out clues.  Philby is the redheaded tech genius of the group.  Finn’s mysterious friend Amanda also helps out, although she is not a DHI.

They have to solve a mystery by finding clues on the rides.  The Overtakers try to stop them by turning the rides against them.  Which leads to the creepiest scene ever in It’s a Small World that will totally ruin the ride for you. They ultimately have to face down Malificent and her sidekick Jez.

It’s a fun and interesting story, and much more of a literary children’s book than you might expect from it’s commercial tie-in with a big theme park.  In fact, since the Disney company is so image conscious, I’m surprised that they actually make the company look bad at some points in the narrative.  My daughter enjoyed this book and I expect we’ll be reading the whole series.

Recommended books:

Rating: ***1/2