Merin's Reviews > Shell Game

Shell Game by Ridley Pearson
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Apr 21, 12

bookshelves: read-in-2012
Read from April 20 to 21, 2012

The Kingdom Keepers are back, this time set to join the launch of the Disney Dream, the newest edition of their cruise line. But all is not right: a journal that belonged to the Disney Imagineers has been stolen by the Overtakers, and more and more teens have joined the ranks of the villains. Finn and the others know that the Dream is the perfect place for the Overtakers to spring a trap, and know that they are sitting ducks. It's a shell game: who can you trust when no one seems trustworthy?

First of all, I have loved this series from the very first book, but felt like the last two (including this one) have been a bit of an editing disaster. This book is very long for the age range it's targeted at, and I feel like it's turning Harry Potter-esque in that respect: each book is getting longer and longer and the story seems less tight and concise. Truthfully this book was a bit of a mess; there were typos, lines of dialogue that didn't match up with the speaker, and occurrences where the Kingdom Keepers were in DHI form when they weren't supposed to be, rendering their actions impossible since they were actually in human form. Add to that the addition of new characters, points of view shifting from paragraph to paragraph, and the whole thing was a bit difficult to read and follow at times.

That being said, this definitely continues the overarching story line of these five Kingdom Keepers - only freshman in high school - trying to save the Parks from the Disney villains. The stakes keep getting higher and higher, the risks they're taking more dangerous, and the problems they're facing more difficult to manage. This book also has a definite "cannot stop reading" feel to it, even if it does suffer at times from Non-Stop Action Syndrome, which I'm not always a fan of.

As for the characters, we're definitely starting to see sides of them that aren't so great; each of them is dealing with changes in their lives, and their feelings for each other. You have watered-down versions of love triangles all over the place, which gets sort of tedious but also fits with this age group. I still really love Finn, but the others have grown on me throughout this book, although I am as annoyed with Philby in this installment as the characters in the book are. I also had qualms with two new editions to the villains: Jack Sparrow and Tia Dalma. I didn't view them as "villains" in the Pirates movie at all, so to see them in that role in the book was a little eyebrow-raising for me personally.

This is the fifth of a planned seven books, and it ends with a cliffhanger (view spoiler), which won't be resolved until January of next year when book six is released. While I was disappointed with parts of this one, you can bet that I'll be reading the next installment; I just hope more attention is paid to the editing.
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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Drew Graham Yours is the first review on here that I've read that I feel is the slightest bit honest about this book's (and series') many faults, though I still think you're FAR too generous. I think it was a pretty huge mess.


Merin LOL. I think the fact that it's about Disney, and I love Disney, pretty much makes me want to be nice to this book (and the ones preceding it). Plus I do like Finn. I can overlook a lot of editing things, but the fact that said mistakes started making the plot completely implausible really bothered me this time around. I think the biggest problem is that he's putting these books out too quickly, and isn't doing what needs to be done to make them really ready to be published. It's a shame, because this series really had a lot of promise. I'll keep reading them until the end, but I haven't bought one of these since the first one; it's been relegated to a library series for me.

I do find it interesting that everyone seems to be ignoring the issues with it, though. I would have thought that more people would have pointed out just how many mistakes there were! I know the errors definitely threw me out of the narrative several times.


Drew Graham Oh, I am as big a Disney fan as any (more than most, I daresay), which is exactly why I had such problems with this series. Like you said, these books SHOULD be AMAAAZIIIING with the premise and name behind them, but I feel like they're handled all wrong. It kind of makes me sad, since so many people will like them just because they're Disney fans without realizing how false the books are to the Disney characters and theme parks, all bad writing aside. When Disney has created properties and characters, it's important to stay true to them, or why or how would anyone connect or relate to them? I even wrote a letter to Mr. Ripley expressing such, as well as my disappointment (AND an illustration comparing a well-known Disney character and his extremely disparate description of the same character).

I don't know how anyone can like Finn, he's so inconsistent in character, not to mention unpleasant and angsty, it's extremely hard for me to get on his side.


Merin I think I like Finn because he seems like a real teenager to me. I work with pre-teens, so they're slightly younger than the characters in this book, but the one thing he has done is make them "real" in the sense that they're all going through what everyone goes through when they're growing up. Although the whole plot point with his mom in this book was weird, especially since we didn't get any kind of closure with that. Of course, ending this on a "cliffhanger" pretty much meant there was no closure of any sort for anything going on, which was just one more thing that annoyed me about it. (And the more I think about this book, the more issues I have with it, you know?)

I imagine you haven't heard back from him yet? I would be interested to see how he responds, because I, too, have problems with some of the characters (as mentioned briefly in the review regarding his two new "villains"). I really think the first book was amazing in terms of what he was writing about and the characters and the whole idea, and even the second one was pretty good (I can't remember exactly what happened in that, because I haven't read it since it came out), but after that they really started falling apart.


Drew Graham I actually DID get a response, but it was from his secretary, who briefly and tersely informed me that Mr. Pearson does in fact have editors and fact-checkers to make sure his information about the parks and characters are accurate, and that his story is cohesive and coherent, in which case I doubt their abilities too. These books seem like they haven't passed under the eye of a single editor to me. I would love to have ten minutes to talk to him in person, I would really like to understand the reasoning behind some of his decisions here. I think I liked the first book better too, but I already had some major issues with it, in how it presented certain rides and areas of Disney parks and some of the characters that were just inaccurate (some of which have now disappeared completely... Remember when Maleficent used to make it cold every time she appeared and even caused frost to appear on the ground where she walked?).

And yes, I know what you mean about having more issues the more you think about it. As for the cliffhanger, all I have to say is: Starfish wise, starfish cries. No big. (Where did that even come from? That was not the Triton of the movies.)


Merin Yeah, I know about the cliffhanger. I was sort of like, "... *yawn*," because it's ridiculous that we already know how they'll be saved.

Interesting about the response from the secretary. I highly doubt these books are going through an editor at all, although I'm sure no one would ever admit that. It seems impossible that they wouldn't at least catch the dialogue errors, or the whole "I'm going to step through Maleficent's cage, even though I'm totally in human form!" thing.

And Triton seemed extremely strange to me, too. Definitely not movie!Triton in any sense aside from living in water (and, um, he lives in salt water, so OF COURSE he'd show up in a [fresh] water ride...).


Drew Graham It's so odd because with a company like Disney, who can certainly afford to put out quality work, and really, MUST do so, that they would let such shoddy work through. It kind of makes me think that they don't even realize what's actually in the books.


Merin Haven't they incorporated some sort of Kingdom Keepers thing into the parks, too? I can't remember if they have, or if they're planning it, but either way, yes, you'd think they would read the books to make sure the quality was there. I have read tons of other books put out by Disney-Hyperion, and this is the first series that has disappointed at all, although I haven't finished reading the Peter and the Starcatchers books (which Pearson is actually a co-writer of) so can't say that with 100% certainty.


Drew Graham I haven't heard of or seen anything specifically related to the KK in the parks (so far! Please no!). Mark my words: This series will not be translated to the big screen. At least not without HEAVY changes to the plot and technology and characters. I was at one time interested in Peter and the Starcatchers, but now after reading five of his other books, I don't think I could bear to start another of his series. I just don't think he's all that talented a writer. Maybe if he works with a co-writer as he does on Starcatchers it might be a better experience, but at this point I'm not willing to risk it.

As an aside, I realized that yours is the review on Amazon that I commented on too! It's a small world after all. :)


Merin Ha! Indeed. :)


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