Previous Installment: Shell Game
The five Kingdom Keepers and their core friends have uncovered a startling truth: Maleficent and the Overtakers (Disney villains) are plotting a catastrophic event that could have repercussions far beyond the world of Disney.
Aboard the Disney Cruise Line’s inaugural passage through the new Panama Canal, the Keepers and their holograms uncover a puzzle hidden within the pages of a stolen journal. The point of that puzzle will reveal itself in the caves of Aruba, the zip lines of Costa Rica, and the jungles of Mexico. A destructive force, dormant for decades, is about to be unleashed. The five Kingdom Keepers are to be its first victims.
DISCLAIMER: Because this is the sixth book in the Kingdom Keepers series, this review does contain some references to occurrences in the previous books. Major plot points or spoilers, however, are avoided.
I am at a loss when it comes to my feelings about this series. It started out so incredibly strong, with awesome world-building and likable characters. I loved the inside look at the inner workings of Disney that most tourists and fans don’t get to see, from the behind-the-scenes mechanics of rides and attractions, to the glimpse inside the areas of the parks that only Cast Members are allowed inside. The idea of five teenagers being turned into holograms – and then told that their “other” job (aside from marketing) is to fight the Overtakers, or Disney villains, who are trying to gain control of the Parks and turn them decidedly darker. But as the series has gone on, instead of the awesome action scenes and battles between good and evil, the books have devolved into Relationship Drama (and yes, it deserves capital letters) between the main characters. And that’s just majorly disappointing to me.
I mentioned in my review of Shell Game that the editing of these books has become extremely lackluster. In that book, there were lines of dialogue that didn’t match up to the speaker, misspellings galore, and gaping plot holes. I mentioned that I didn’t like the fact that Mr. Pearson turned Tia Dalma into a villain, either, and considering her huge role in Dark Passage, my unhappiness with that move has grown exponentially. I’m sorry, but she’s NOT evil. She very clearly was helpful in the Pirates films, and I don’t like what he’s done with her character at all. I can get behind the other villains – the Evil Queen from Snow White, and Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, to name a few, because that’s exactly how they were written in their original fairy tales. Their evilness, if you will, makes sense. Tia Dalma’s? Not so much.
Considering that the main part of this book is supposed to be about the Kingdom Keepers’ fight against the Overtakers, way too much of this book is taken up with teenage drama of various sorts. Not only do you have the typical love interest stuff – Willa likes Philby, Charlene likes Maybeck and Finn (but maybe Maybeck more?), Finn likes Amanda, but finds himself also crushing on new character Storey Ming (who is WAY too old for him and therefore should NOT be crushing back, ugh), Philby also likes Storey but probably Willa more, and, just, seriously, STOP. Chapter after chapter of this book is taken up with all this ~drama~ about who likes whom, and it’s just ridiculous. I also am getting really tired of the increasing strain between Finn and Philby and who is the true “leader” of the Keepers. And while I used to like Wayne, I find him at fault for most of it, so my dislike of him has also grown in each installment. Philby is a massive jerk, who likes to prove he’s the smartest and basically says things just to make Finn angry, and also revels in the fact that Wayne has told him some things he hasn’t told Finn. The only character I really liked in this book was Maybeck, who at least isn’t treating everyone terribly!
I also need to mention that the editing of this book was no better than Shell Game. It’s overly long (see that paragraph above regarding all the drama) and there were typos throughout (and this was a hardback copy, not the e-book version). At one point Philby tells Willa that her idea is “brilliant” and then five lines later he tells her it’s “too risky”. What? Which is it? That’s just one example, but there are moments of this throughout the book. Every time it happens it just really knocks the reader out of the story, which further lowers your enjoyment.
Dark Passage is the most disappointing installment in the series thus far. Considering that the books have gotten worse as they’ve gone along, I have little hope that the final installment will be any better. If we could just go back to the main plot of this series – the battle against the Overtakers – and stop with all the unnecessary romantic “intrigue” then I think you’d have a decent finale. Alas, I don’t hold out much hope of that happening. Will I still read book seven? Yes, because I’ve devoted myself to the previous six, and I want to see how everything ends. Will I enjoy it? Unfortunately, that seems extremely unlikely.