Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Book Review: The Keeper by David Baldacci

* I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Vega Jane was always told no one could leave the town of Wormwood. She was told there was nothing outside but the Quag, a wilderness filled with danger and death. And she believed it - until the night she stumbled across a secret that proved that everything she knew was a lie.

Now just one thing stands between Vega Jane and freedom - the Quag. In order to leave Wormwood and discover the truth about her world, Vega and her best friend Delph must find a way to make it across a terrifying land of bloodthirsty creatures and sinister magic. But the Quag is worse than Vega Jane's darkest imagining. It's a living, breathing prison designed to keep enemies out and the villagers of Wormwood in.

The Quag will throw everything at Vega Jane. It will try to break her. It will try to kill her. And survival might come at a price not even Vega Jane is willing to pay.

Image credit: The Big Shot PR
Everyone knows that David Baldacci is a big name in literature. So you might be surprised to know that The Keeper was the first book of his that I've read. Because Baldacci is such a big name I had quite high expectations. I mean, he has to be that popular for a reason, right? As I'm sure you know by now, YA is the genre I like the most and I'm the most knowledgeable about. Plus it's fantasy, which is a genre I also like on the whole. And who doesn't love delving into a new writer's catalogue for the first time?

When I started this book I have to admit that I just jumped into it headfirst without really researching it. Consequently it came as a bit of a surprise when I found out that it's actually the second in a series, The Vega Jane series, sequel to 2014's The Finisher.

Jump straight in

Luckily this wasn't a problem as it was easy to pick up on the main plot and key points of what had happened in the previous book. I imagine it would be a bit repetitive for those who have read the first book, but it enabled me to quickly get a hold on the story.

But despite that, if I'm completely honest, I didn't really enjoy this book. It felt unoriginal and lacked that crucial spark. Instead, it was full of recycled cliches from the fantasy genre. It was fast-paced, but far too rushed towards the end. And the whole idea of the five different circles of the Quag reminded me of the Quarter Quell arena in the second Hunger Games book, Catching Fire, though that's probably just coincidence.


Another thing that bugged me was the way that everything that could possibly go wrong did, then it all got happily resolved in a completely unrealistic way. The book was full of action and drama, but I just couldn't take any of it seriously because whenever the author wanted the plot to move on the problems would just get instantly, conveniently resolved within a page and we'd be zooming off to deal with the next thing.

The basic idea is what pulled me into this story, and it's probably one of the only reasons why I trudged on to the very end. I pretty much knew what was going to happen from the beginning, but something in that sparked my interest just enough to keep me reading. 

Everyone loves a canine 

The characters were the other redeeming feature. They were all different, intriguing people, with enough of a backstory to make me interested in them as individuals. In particular, Vega Jane's journey of self-discovery through her past, leading to finding out about her magic, was great. I found Delph to be a surprisingly complex character, and of course, who wouldn't have a soft spot for Harry Two?

But at the end of the day, I honestly expected better from an established writer like Baldacci. The Keeper wasn't terrible, but I wouldn't recommend it either.

Rating: 2 stars.

However, if you're still interested, The Keeper is available to buy now.

Are you a fan of David Baldacci? Will you be reading The Keeper? Let me know in the comments below!

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