Monday, June 24, 2013
Review: Keeper of Reign: Book 1 by Emma Right
by Emma Right
Self Published in May 2013
Source: Received for review from the author. (Thank you!)
Rating: 1.5 out of 5
Summary from Goodreads: Sixteen year old Jules Blaze, heir of a Keeper, suspects his family hides a forgotten secret. It's bad enough that his people, the Elfies of Reign, triggered a curse which reduced the entire inhabitants to a mere inch centuries ago. All because of one Keeper who failed his purpose. Even the King's Books, penned with the Majesty's own blood, did not help ward off this anathema. Now, Gehzurolle, the evil lord, and his armies of Scorpents, seem bent on destroying Jules and his family. Why? Gehzurolle's agents hunt for Jules as he journeys into enemy land to find the truth. Truth that could save him and his family, and possibly even reverse the age-long curse. Provided Jules doesn't get himself killed first.
*Note: This is a very negative review. I tried not to rip the book to shreds, but I had a lot of problems with it*
I've been on a fantasy kick lately. My go-to genre is contemporary, but the enthralling complexity of a great fantasy novel has become more appealing during these slow summer months. Unfortunately, the complexities in Keeper of Reign were not the intentional or enjoyable kind.
Let's start with, in my opinion, the most important part of a fantasy novel: the world building. The author, Emma Right, tried to show the reader her world without going into lengthy descriptions. Unfortunately, this tactic led to little pockets of info dump every so often. We would get a character going into an explanation about something with way more detail than would be said in actual conversation. Another tactic used was what I like to call the "universal truth"tactic. This is when all of the characters know or acknowledge something without the reader being shown why. For example: All of the characters in Keeper of Reign knew how "dangerous" the land across the river, Handover, is. The reader is supposed to think of Handover as dangerous, but the problem comes when we are never shown an example of that danger.
Even after finishing Keeper of Reign I was confused about the world. I never felt as though I understood the way it worked or the history, and learning those thins is often my favorite part of a fantasy novel.
Next, let's talk about the characters. The world building was disappointing, but I could have gotten over it if the characters had been compelling; they were not. I've never read a book where I felt as though every single character was there simply to serve a purpose. Every time a new character was introduced, it was soon clear why the author chose to write them. In fact, I felt like the author just added a new character each time she wanted something to happen in the plot.
The main character, Jules, didn't seem to have a distinct personality. I never really got to know him, and I never saw any character development. He had four siblings, which would have been a lot more interesting if they had had distinct personalities. Besides a few character traits, like a penchant for using complex words, they were all really bland and practically interchangeable.
Unfortunately, I didn't really care about the characters or what happened to them.
The plot of the novel was confusing. Is Jules looking for his grandparents? His dad? His mom? Or is he looking for a way to reverse the curse put on his people? I was never really sure what he was trying to do. The plot moved along, but towards the end I got really tired of the conveniently placed secondary characters and side adventures. There was way too much going on at once.
Finally, the writing. The dialogue was stiff and sometimes cheesy. There wasn't any personality in the dialogue and I was only sure who was speaking if it was specifically stated. Right tried to impart a fairytale type of narrative into Keeper of Reign by using the word "for" in place of "because", as in "I didn't like this novel, for the author's writing wasn't polished." These instances stuck out to me and made me roll my eyes. It was used inconsistently and felt like a lazy way for the author to make the story seem more fantastical.
Lamentably, I did not enjoy Keeper of Reign. In my opinion, the novel isn't ready for publication. I think the author has a lot of good ideas and an interesting concept, but it was executed poorly and is in great need of an editor. I don't think I will be continuing on with this series.