Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Owl Keeper

The Owl Keeper
Christine Brodien-Jones
Delacorte, April 2010
Dystopia, Fantasy

I was super excited about this book; dystopia/fantasy for Middle Grade, what could be better? After reading Uglies about a year ago I have been reading all the dystopic, futuristic YA I can find, but I haven't really found many Middle Grade dystopias. So as soon as I heard about The Owl Keeper I knew I had to read it. And lucky for me I managed to score a copy from If you haven't check out GetGlue you should immediately. Perhaps I shall make a post about the site and its book connect later this week. But for now back to The Owl Keeper.

Maxwell Unger has always loved the night. He used to do brave things like go tramping through the forest with his gran after dark. He loved the stories she told him about the world before the Destruction—about nature, and books, and the silver owls. His favorite story, though, was about the Owl Keeper.

According to Max’s gran, in times of darkness the Owl Keeper would appear to unite owls and sages against the powers of the dark. Gran is gone now, and so are her stories of how the world used to be. Max is no longer brave. The forest is dangerous, the books Gran had saved have been destroyed, and the silver owls are extinct. At least that’s what the High Echelon says. But Max knows better.

Maxwell Unger has a secret. And when a mysterious girl comes to town, he might just have to start being brave again.

The time of the Owl Keeper, Gran would say, is coming soon.

Brodien-Jones has crafted a beautiful, exciting, action-filled story perfect for middle graders. I couldn't put it down; I had to keep reading to see what was going to happen to Max next. Middle grade boys will love the pacing and excitement of this book and want to keep turning the page. Max, Rose, and all the other main characters are all delightfully quirky and interesting. I loved Max and Rose right from the beginning. Even the villains are more than just "bad guys." They're odd and quirky too.

The world creation was one of my favorite parts. It's so important for futuristic and fantastical novels to create worlds that make sense, that the reader can picture, that draw you in. Brodien-Jones does an amazing job of this. The intricacies of the world are revealed slowly throughout the novel as Max comes to realize the true nature of the society he lives in. She doesn't spend an excessive amount of time in the beginning explaining and setting up the world, she jumps right into the story -- right into Max's life -- and lets the world create itself around him. Perfectly done.

A brief comment on the art. Maggie Kneen's spot illustrations that begin each chapter are lovely. I don't know why I like this type of illustration, especially in Middle Grade books, so much but I do. It's a nice pause in action, an added visual. I also really like the cover. It sets the mood quite nicely and gives sets up the novel's emphasis on darkness well.

As far as I know this is a stand-alone novel -- I do feel the story resolved itself nicely in the end -- but I love this world and its cast of characters and would definitely love to read any other future companion novels.

Add to the top of your to-read pile


  1. This sounds good! Pretty cover too. Great review!

  2. Aww I want to read this. I love the little owl on the cover. :D