Length: 459 pages
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
The moment she stepped into the Quag with her best friend and her dog, Vega Jane knew that the journey ahead was going to be nothing short of a nightmare. But, as she soon realizes, a nightmare is only the beginning. Because the Quag holds much more than the terrors that are meant to keep Wugs away – it holds the secrets of an age-old legend, lost over time. An organism that has a life of its own, it holds the truth about the world and life that, as Vega Jane had discovered, was nothing short of a lie. It holds the truth for which Vega Jane so desperately searched.
But some truths are better left buried. What Vega Jane discovers, strengthens and weakens her at the same time. But the Quag wants more – it wants to break her. Can Vega Jane survive the Quag? Or will she, and the only two beings she can truly lean and rely on, pay the price for disobeying the laws of Wormwood?
The Keeper is Book 2 of the Vega Jane trilogy and follows The Finisher. Unfortunately, it falls quite short of its prequel, leaving you with a book that you don’t hate, but wish you could like more.
The Keeper has some things really going for it, such as the creativity of the very concept of the Quag itself. It also has some very interesting characters, creatures, and scenarios. The main characters that you really liked in The Finisher return with the determination, strength, and warmth that works for them. The story itself moves at a relatively brisk pace and keeps you turning the pages.
But that’s about where the good part ends.
The most annoying thing about The Keeper is its convenience. Everything is altogether too convenient and, oddly enough, easy. Bad things happen, somebody has a realization, and then things are rectified. And the cycle continues. I’m not saying I want people to die every time something goes wrong; but I did expect things in the infamous Quag to put up more of a challenge than they did.
Then there was the excessive… (let’s say) flattery towards other fantasies including Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and (unsurprisingly) The Lord of the Rings. Names, actions, backgrounds – they all seemed to be a result of a concoction of these series. Given that it’s a fantasy, you can literally create new things. So when Baldacci chooses to rely on tried and tested aspects of fantasy, the result is a bit repetitive and unoriginal. But some really unique and original aspects which come from Book 1 and stay in the background manage to reduce the negative impact this has on the entire reading experience.
Yet, it doesn’t save the book from one major problem – it is extremely childish!
Although under the genre of young adult, the first book had a more mature, rounded feel to it. That’s what made it readable even for people who were more adult and less ‘young adult’. The Keeper, however, goes in the opposite direction. Some aspects were too annoyingly kiddish and made you turn the pages faster just to get back to the real story. Characters that have, so far, shown maturity and strength, show traits that are very uncharacteristic. And that puts a dampener on the reading experience that should have (and could have) been so much better. Somehow, in all that chaos, you lose a large part of the charm and thrill that brought you to the book in the first place.
But one thing The Keeper definitely keeps alive and thriving is the mystery, as introduced by its prequel. You’re often left wondering about the evasive truth. And that is what ensures that, in spite of its shortcomings, The Keeper didn’t turn me off the series entirely. I’m definitely reading Book 3 whenever it’s out (next year, I think) because I want to know how this story progresses and ends. But I will keep my fingers crossed that it leans more towards Book 1 instead of 2 in its story and execution.
So, should you read The Keeper? Yes, if you’ve read (and liked) the first book in the series (just don’t go in expecting too much), or if you’re a die-hard fan of young adult. But it’s definitely not something you have to read just because you like fantasy. So if you haven’t begun the series, then hold off until the final part. And take a call on whether to read The Keeper (and its prequel) on that basis of the series review.