Keeper of the Lost Cities
Oh. My. Goodness. I loved this book! I cannot thank Melissa Buell enough for sending her extra ARC my way -- I've passed it along to another blogger, sharing the love, because I quickly realized I must have a finished copy of this in my library. It's really that awesome, you guys.
Sophie always knew she was different. Aside from being a genius (or possibly even smarter than a genius), she hears voices. Actually, not "voices" so much as thoughts. Sophie can read people's minds. Everyone's mind. There is no off-switch. She has told nobody about it, but when she stumbles into a mysterious - and handsome - boy on a field trip, she discovers that he can read minds also. And that's only the start of an incredible journey of discovery. See, Sophie - and this new dude, Fitz - are elves. Yup. Elves. (Be still my beating heart!) Fitz takes Sophie home, to this semi-alternate world, which is comprised greatly of "mythic cities" in human history (there's a wonderful history to all this, but I won't paraphrase - you need to experience this yourself) - and so begins Sophie's strange and wonderful transition from weird human to extremely talented elf.
There are so many awesome elements to this story. Between refraining from complete fangirling and not wanting to totally spoil the reading experience, this review is tricky to write, ha. Let's talk about characters. Sophie is a trooper. She keeps getting thrown curveball after curveball, and keeps finding ways to rise above the obstacles. She's crazy smart too, and adjusts to being an elf in an elven world beautifully. For the most part. She also meets some amazing people, making a surprising circle of friends. Like Dex - goofy, clutzy, somewhat untalented Dex. He's adorable, very much like a long-legged puppy trying to adjust to growing up. And Keefe - the resident Bad Boy of the Academy. He's such a smart alecky charmer too - I can definitely understand why "Team Keefe" has a huge following. I was tempted myself, but had to be true to my heart's first instinct: Fitz. Oh, Fitz. The honorable, trustworthy, also-crazy-smart-and-talented Fitz. He not only finds Sophie, but he plays a huge role in helping Sophie survive. He's swoony.
All the characters are well-rounded and intriguing. There's a lot of backstory that you know is going to come into the open sooner or later, affecting character dynamics and explaining the mysteries surrounding Sophie's very existence. There's history and depth and believability to Keeper of the Lost Cities - something sort of hard to achieve in fantasy, but Shannon manages. I could almost fancy myself meeting a handsome elf who could whisk me away on a beam of light to a wonderful world of tasty desserts and fantastic animals... but I digress. For all the fun, quirky details in Keepers, there's a darker thread too - a bit of a mystery, a taste of danger, an element of the Unknown. It keeps the story moving, it helps grow the characters - especially Sophie - and it makes this book kick butt. I inhaled the ARC, staying up way too late, and cannot WAIT for the next installment! Read it people, just read it. You won't regret it! ((Oh, and just because it's technically "middle grade" - don't let that throw you. It's a story anyone can read and enjoy, regardless of how long ago middle school was.))
ARC provided by my personal library.