Rating: 5/5 stars
Series: Keeper of the Lost Cities, Book 5
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Young Adult
His cheer sounded forced. But she knew Fitz was trying.
That’s what they did now.
I don’t know what I expected from this book, but I certainly got more than I bargained for. More happiness, more stress, more heartache… just more. Messenger seems to do an amazing job at pulling emotions out of me and playing with them like that’s her job. Which, in a way, I guess it is.
You see, after reading Neverseen, I was really hoping for some good news in this series. Yes, there were some extreme highs in this book – and for that I’m grateful – but the lows were so much… lower than I would have expected. These lows were written so beautifully, so intrinsically to the story, that I can’t help but love them – even if I do hate that they’re there just a little bit.
Basically what I’m saying is this: if you’re going into this story hoping for a lighthearted and carefree read, you’ve got another thing coming to you. But wait! Don’t let that turn you off of this amazing story. Instead, be prepared for a dynamic cast and a world that is going to keep you guessing. Heck, even when things are rough for the main squad my heart is screaming out that I need more.
While yes this story can be dark at times, the joy that it brings me is endless. And, as I’ve questioned so many times throughout my life, what’s the good in good if you don’t have something compare it to? (Now this might just be the Philosophy major in me talking, so bare with me a second.) If you don’t have anything to compare joy to, how are you supposed to know you’re happy? Of course it sucks to go through hard times – even seemingly impossible times – but getting out of these struggles alive not only makes you stronger, it also makes you realize just how great other times in your life have really been.
Okay, tangent over (for now). In a more directly related to Lodestar itself thread, I continued to be shocked and amazed at the maturity and brilliance that the squad shows. While only teenagers, they’re willing to risk everything in order to help save people – and not just the people they care about. Sure as teenagers they don’t always go about things the right way. But what’s more important than that is their willingness to risk it all to help people because it’s the right thing. Sophie might just be a fourteen year old from a race that lives much longer than I can comprehend, but she is wise beyond her years. Heck, if she wasn’t so grounded I’d worry that the series was unbalanced.
Thankfully, Messenger manages to break my heart time and time again by proving she doesn’t really believe in plot armour. (Yes, that sentence was a touch sarcastic – but the wound is still fresh!) I say this hoping it doesn’t spoil the emotional impact of Messenger’s words. I say this as praise to Messenger, for keeping me on my toes no matter what I expect to happen. Even when it hurts, it hurts so good.
On a much happier note, I love the little teasing bits of relationship drama that gets thrown in during the strangest times. Heck, as someone who was once a teenage girl myself, I know any relationship conversation with your dad is going to be awkward. But a conversation about boys with your dad and your bodyguard while you’re trying to figure out how to save people? BIG OOF. Of course I felt a touch of secondhand embarrassment during these scenes, but I couldn’t help but grin at Sophie’s reactions to boy talk.
I also love how dynamic Messenger makes her characters feel. Even someone as happy and bright as Sophie can sometimes have a dark side, which is how people are in real life, too. Seeing the extent to which Sophie and her friends are willing to go for those they care about, ignoring the consequences, makes them feel real to me. Your loved one is a bad guy? Don’t worry, you’ll have a chance to punch them in the face.
The final non-spoilery note I’d like to make on this book is how Messenger isn’t afraid to touch on hard subjects. One of these that is touched on in Lodestar is the topic of verbal abuse. Many people brush off the severity of verbal abuse because there’s no tell-tale signs that it’s happened. Some lump it in with toxic masculinity and think that if they let it get to them then it’s making them less of a man/a person. (Yes I know these issues can be handled separately, but I find it important to point out they can go hand in hand.) Messenger isn’t afraid to call out verbal abuse when it happens – even if we are talking about fictional characters here. It’s important to show real people that these things happen, that it’s okay to acknowledge that it’s affected you.
Now, I know I’ve said this before but it won’t be my last time saying it: don’t be scared away from this series simply because it’s classified as “Middle Grade”. Yes, the characters are young. But so were the characters in Harry Potter and that doesn’t stop people from all ages loving the story and its world – or getting something out of the tale. The KotLC series is just like this. It’s filled with morals and lessons for both the young and the old[er]. It’s filled with jokes that children will understand… and a couple for when you’re a bit older (but don’t worry – nothing crude!). If you haven’t already picked up this series, I highly recommend you do. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a new favourite series like I did.
Continue reading “Lodestar by Shannon Messenger”