Title: Keeper of the Lost Cities
Author: Shannon Messenger
Series: Keeper of the Lost Cities #1
Sophie Foster doesn’t want anyone to know she can tell what they’re thinking. It’s not something she asked for, and she does her best to keep from sticking out. Well, from sticking out any more than she already does, since she’s a high school senior at the age of twelve. But then she runs into Fitz, who tells her impossible things about who she is and where she belongs. And before she knows it, her life has completely upended. A new home, a new school, new powers—and new enemies. Enemies that would see her dead.
I’m sorry I avoided this book for so long, under the mistaken notion that it was somehow a dystopia. It is not at all one. It is, instead, part fantasy world and part school story, and the two mingle in interesting and often hysterical ways.
Sophie is a great lead. She tries really hard to adjust to this new life, but she struggles, often intensely, to fit in to a world where she supposedly belongs. I love her continual misadventures in alchemy (and I deeply respect her alchemy teacher’s final grade, as she’s completely in the right and, just like Sophie, refuses to bow to falsehood about it even though that’s what everyone wants). Sophie isn’t perfect by a long shot. She has powers and with that comes the temptation to use them irresponsibly. But she chooses to tell the truth even when it costs her, and I love that about her. I like how she bonds with Grady and Edaline, and I hope to see those bonds deepen in the future. They are in their own way outcasts for having knowledge of grief, which the rest of their kind know mostly clinically instead of personally.
And although Sophie steals the show for me, I would be remiss not to mention the wonderful cast of friends she (sometimes reluctantly) ends up with. Dex and his crazy alchemy pranks, his stubborn friendship, his ultimate heroism. (I am hoping for massively more Dex in sequels, as he was my second-favorite.) Keefe and his troublemaking, which had me somewhat concerned for a while, but he pulls through as the lovable rogue. Fitz, loyal and protective, but not above a spot of mischief himself. Biana—I loved how she changed over the course of the book. It isn’t often initial impressions change so thoroughly, without that being the central focus of the book.
The adults are equally well done, which for a kids book especially is an amazing accomplishment. Grady and Edaline get special love and attention, as they step in to be Sophie’s guardians, even though they still have the shadow of tragedy hanging over their own hearts. Doctor Elwin, the last person Sophie wants to see and yet the one she can’t keep away from as her misadventures continually send her to his office. He’s kind and his methods of healing are fascinating. Fitz’s father, Alden, who works a stressful and demanding government job but always takes time for Sophie to help her settle, and he tries so hard to work through what she’s giving him so she won’t have to deal with it herself.
I could go on. I loved this book. I usually trip over a few things that jerk me out of a story but that never happened here. I had to sit down and plow through all nearly-500 pages of it. It wraps up very well, with plenty of room for future tales. And if they are anything like the first I will have to devour them as soon as I can. I rate this book Highly Recommended.