by David Baldacci
15 sessions old Vega Jane, her dog Harry Two and best friend Daniel ‘Delph’ Delphia, aged 17 sessions, have took a leap of faith over a cliff in the Quag – a restricted area outside of their hometown of Wormwood. All their lives, Wugmorts have been told that no-one has ever survived venturing outside Wormwood into the forbidden Quag where all the terrifying beasties live and that nothing is outside it. After her grandfather Virgil and friend Quentin Hermes left Wormwood for the Quag, Vega Jane has made it her quest to travel through and find out the truth for herself. Having escaped the cruel hand of Morrigone and the council of Wormwood, Vega Jane and Delph are in search of freedom and the truth but have they bitten off more than they can chew?
Continuing on from David Baldacci’s best-seller The Finisher, The Keeper is the second novel following the footsteps of teenage protagonist Vega Jane. Vega is brave, headstrong and stubborn and is joined by her caring, strapping best friend Delph who always does his best to protect her. Completing the trio of friends is Vega’s loyal companion canine, Harry Two. So far the three have survived everything thrown at them but nothing they’ve experienced compares with what they’ll meet in the Quag. From fire-breathing creatures to grass-covered Ekos, Vega Jane will find herself up against an array of species, some of which may be of help and others who’ll have every intent in destroying her very existence. Vega’s looking for answers and she’ll find plenty in the Quag, some of which will only make her question more of her life so far… that’s if she and her companions can survive long enough to ask them.
The Finisher was a gripping young adult novel that I really could get into. The Keeper expands upon this, taking Vega Jane, Delph and Harry Two into varying terrains and meeting other species and characters that can either help or hinder them. However, I found that in this particular story, no matter what the threat, it seems that Vega and friends easily find a way through. Everything seems so convenient and that special magical items such as Destin the flying chain or the powerful Elemental seem to be just in the right place at the right time to aid Vega and co. What I loved about The Finisher, especially the ending, was that it threatened trouble and damage which couldn’t be repaired. The cliffhanger had me delighted as one of the options meant certain doom. In The Keeper, everything is predictable and hunky dory. In other words, it’s too nice for it’s own good and therefore an unbelievable journey. However, I suppose these types of fantasy tales such as Harry Potter and The Hunger Games do rely on the main characters tackling obstacles and coming out the other side. It just seems though in this book that everything took very little effort, even including battling the lethal enemies such as the Wendigo and the Colossals.
Author David Baldacci’s writing style is very fast-paced and easy to read, making it ideal for teenagers to get stuck into. I’d say this book is more suited to teenagers aged around 12/13 rather than say 17 year olds though anyone regardless of age can get a lot out of the book. For me, as an adult, The Keeper lacks realism and there’s not enough real-life sadness or anguish to build upon and really invest in Vega’s journey. For the Quag to be so dangerous as it’s made out to be, Vega seems to have very little problem traversing it which makes me question how volatile the place actually is.
Once again, Baldacci leaves the book open to allow for a third book in the series and as a completist, I’ll no doubt seek it out once it is released however I must admit I’m disappointed in this effort. I feel as though the book skimmed across the five circles of the Quag and didn’t spend enough time building them up to create a truly frightening, gritty and intense environment that would serve a real challenge to our trio.
Though the book has plenty of good ideas, The Keeper is more of a light-hearted action-fantasy read than it is an engrossing one.