Saturday, March 9, 2013

Review of The Soulkeepers (Book One) by G.P. Ching


"When fifteen-year-old Jacob Lau is pulled from the crumpled remains of his mother's car, no one can explain why he was driving or why the police can't find his mother's body. Made a ward of his uncle and thousands of miles from home, a beautiful and mysterious neighbor offers to use her unique abilities to help him find his mom. In exchange, she requires Jacob to train as a Soulkeeper, a warrior charged with protecting human souls.

He agrees to her demands, desperate for any clue to the mystery of his mother's disappearance. But soon Jacob finds himself trapped in a web of half-truths, and questions her motives for helping him.

I picked this book on an amazon e-book search, and I'm glad I did. I like to pick a few random books once in a while, from authors I've never heard of, and sort of test them out. (Like when I go to the library and pull a random book off of the shelf.) It's a hit-or-miss kinda thing! Anyway, I enjoyed this book, but my complaint is that many characters were really clich├ęd, enough to make me "like, not love" the book. The main character, Jacob, was basically cynical and determined: cynical when it came to God, love, and family; determined when it came to finding out the truth about what happened to his mom. I found my inner skeptic related well to him :D His biggest obstacles were overcoming his skepticism, letting go of his guilt, and learning how to open up to the people around him. The plot and action in the book all tied in to these themes. (I can't say how, because ahem ahem spoilers ya know.)

 Jacob's aunt, cousin, and schoolmates seemed like they were copy-pasted out of a bad made-for-tv movie. The aunt and cousin (he moves in with his uncle and family) were just ridiculously mean about him staying with them. Like, glaring at him at almost any given time mean. He had no friends at school. NO FRIENDS. Except for the conveniently-also-friendless-and-transferred-in-plus-smart-and-cute girl, Malini. There were some big bad jocks and pretty, sassy airheads, and you had "typical" school faculty. If, by typical, you mean teachers and secretaries who are incompetent and dumbed down.

Soulkeepers had suspense, mystery, and action. The story would move really quickly, and then slow down for a bit sometimes, but there was always some info you were learning when the characters were taking a break from traveling across the globe or KO-ing in the grocery store parking lot. In this story, there are three types of beings: humans, just living normal lives; Watchers, who are like fallen angels with bad attitudes and worse plans for humans (it's a little more complicated than that); and Soulkeepers (Jacob is one of them) who are in charge of protecting humans from the merciless Watchers. Soulkeepers are humans who're given some sort of power, like manipulating elements or healing or super skills with weapons, in the fight against evil. Watching Jacob grow into his power was pretty cool, and the action in this book was much more exciting after Jacob learned to control it.

 Unfortunately for me, the book also had cutesy puppy eyes young love. You know, the "we're 15 and destined to be together forever" romance. Even if I was still 15, I'd have been sighing with frustration. Malini is the love interest in this story, of course. (Remember, literally no one else Jacob's age wanted anything to do with him.) She's an isolated bookworm who can't really defend herself, and Jacob's like her knight in shining armor. For example, at one point Malini is grabbed by a guy. Jacob punches the attacker, and instead of Malini working with him to annihilate the scumbag, she runs and hides behind Jacob. Honestly, if the two are so destined to be together, a love woven in fate, protectors of humans, blahblahblah shouldn't they be a team, whether they're reading together or fighting together?

Finally, I was happy to see that faith in God and the bible were brought in to the story. Not because I'm Christian (I'm not) but because most of today's YA work that I've read is completely devoid of any religious talk. Soulkeepers brings in faith without shoving it down the reader's throat or selling bible verses like lemonade on a hot day. It's mentioned, tied in to the plot, while keeping a comfortable distance. It was refreshing. (again, like lemonade on a hot day. ...I like similes, and I really like lemonade :D)

Overall, I liked the concept of Watchers and earthly protecters enough that I want to continue the series, and I think that the copy-paste characters might become more realistic as the story gets deeper.

Lia's rating: Liked It

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