Wednesday, May 9, 2012

City of Lies by Lian Tanner

This is the second book in the Keepers series, book one is the  Museum of Thieves . You need to read the first one otherwise this one will be confusing, especially the shifts in plot or references to the museum, Keepers, and Guardians from the city of Jewel. Some of the questions in the first book are answered such as who set off the bomb and we start to see why Goldie was chosen to be a Keeper - this is tied in with her discovering whose voice is in her head.

Goldie plays the hero as she sets off to rescue Toadspit's sister, Bonnie, who has been kidnapped and taken to the city of Spoke. Two slavers, Cord and Smudge, steal children and Bonnie is their latest victim. When Toadspit and Goldie take after them, Toadspit is caught and Goldie is left on her own to come up with a rescue plan. The city of Spoke is celebrating the Festival of Lies (ironic twist on Festival of Lights) where people have to tell lies to each other and are abuzz with hope of getting caught by a magical "Big Lie". This is when the lie takes over a person's senses and takes them to an alternate world. As Goldie rescues her friends she finds out that the slavers are a part of a bigger conspiracy that involves the city of Jewel.

The author does a nice job with characters and the different voices. Cord and Smudge reminded me of Hook and Smee in Peter Pan and the uneducated orphans living in the streets have their own dialect. Goldie is the only character that changes. She has to learn to trust herself and she's a reluctant hero. It is obvious to the reader that she should trust the voice in her head, but she stubbornly refuses to - which I found downright irritating. I see that it is a setup for later when the "voice" is explained and I appreciate that unique twist in the story, but the author has her doubting the "voice" because there looks like a betrayal; however, the betrayal is obviously not one which is why it doesn't work. Okay, that's a tongue-twister. I would have liked more development on Pounce. He was fun, wasn't he? I like the trickster in stories. I would have liked to crawl inside his brain for awhile. The villains are basically the same characters and don't change. While there is plenty of action or external tension in this story there isn't a lot of internal tension through the characters.

The plot is somewhat messy. The beginning is forced when Goldie has to decide between the Keeper and her parents. I thought she was being melodramatic and impractical by saying she'll "never" be a Keeper. She just needed to take care of her parents and couldn't be a Keeper at the moment. This character change was too contrived for me and didn't work. If she had just said, "Look my parents are really sick after being imprisoned and I can't be a Keeper right now," I would have bought it, but she was slamming the door shut and making it all or nothing. It didn't ring true. Also, I thought her being a Beserker was kind of weird. I like that it scared her and forced her to cast off weapons and I think it is supposed to show that she is a warrior, which is why she should be a Keeper, but it isn't fully developed, just suggested.

I love the risks and creativity Tanner takes with her writing. City of Lies doesn't come alive for me like Museum of Thieves, which has a start that reminds me of The Giver and  museum that reminds me of Incarceron. The story is entertaining and the "Big Lie" is truly unique - I can't think of that in any book. There is plenty of action and violence and the villains are somewhat cartoonish which makes them less threatening for young readers. Readers will enjoy this fantasy.

Reading Level 4.2

3 out of 5 Smileys

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