Ridley Pearson, Shell Game

Posted June 1, 2012 by Kathy Davie in

Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game (Kingdom Keepers, #5)Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game by Ridley Pearson
Series: Kingdom Keepers, 5
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fifth in the Kingdom Keepers fantasy series for kids set in Disney World in Florida and revolving around a core group of five middle schoolers whose images are being used in three-dimensional holograms, DHIs, to serve as guides at the Disney Parks. In this installment, the majority of the action takes place aboard the Dream, a Disney cruise ship sailing through the Panama Canal on a two-week cruise.

My Take
Pearson is working at creating drama with the new fears he’s given Finn about being replaced. I’m thinking Shell Game is more of a bridge novel. Finn is worrying about retirement and being replaced in Wayne’s esteem. Then there’s the horrifying theory the Keepers come up with as to the real purpose of the Overtakers being aboard.

The biggest aspect of the “bridge” is the first and last chapters…arghhh, so irritating!! And Pearson just leaves us wondering just what has happened to Finn!

It seems rather odd that Pearson only mentions Philby’s mother as one of the chaperons and nothing but a reference about guardians for the others. I suppose it was only Finn’s situation that caused Pearson to mention it at all. I don’t understand why Philby refuses to show the other Keepers how to go all clear? Nor why the Keepers all flee from the sight of Chernabog; they all know what he looks like and they just skip this opportunity to take him prisoner?

It’s all cloak-and-dagger for Keepers and Overtakers alike with lots and lots of action and adventure. All within the relatively small confines of the ship with Pearson attempting to work up some romances. Rather clumsily.

Other than the above whining, I enjoyed the story. It had nice bits of tension and drama even if Pearson did leave lots of questions unanswered.

The Story
The Kingdom Keepers’ current task is to prevent a theft from the private Imagineers’ library and hold off an Overtaker-siege at Engineering Base Camp. The notebook in question revolves around Fantasia and one of its primary evil characters, Chernabog.

The action has hotted up outside the parks as well when Finn finds himself under attack in his own house. And it’s not just Finn who is suffering!

A side trip to the Typhoon Lagoon at Wayne’s request is both good and bad: on the one hand, the Keepers gain a powerful ally, on the other hand, they lose one as well. This will certainly complicate matters when the Kingdom Keepers board the Disney Dream for the trip to be the first ship through the new Panama Canal! Losing his mother makes Finn’s being able to join the cruise much more difficult.

As an inaugural cruise generating great publicity for Disney, the Magic Kingdom has changed up a lot of the usual activities, making it so much easier for the bad guys to slip aboard. Certainly Maleficent has smoothed out OTKs joining the cruise.

The Kingdom Keepers will have certainly their hands full on this voyage!

The Characters
It’s this new beta version of the DHI 2.0 and Dill Philby‘s increasingly superior airs, a.k.a., Professor Philby, that find Finn Whitman questioning his role as the Kingdom Keepers’ leader. Charlene Turner is their physically-fit member. Isabella “Willa” Angelo. Terry “Donnie” Maybeck is an artist and has found his niche within the group—his patience is indeed a virtue. Amanda Lockhart and Jezebel “Jess” are Fairlies, something more than human. Amanda has some magical ability and she and Finn love each other while Jess dreams the future. Both girls are still in fostercare with Mrs. Nash. All seven have a DHI, although Amanda and Jess’ are not official. Six DHIs have been created from Cast Members to augment the original Keepers including Kelly Carlson, Bart, Alex Wright, and Megan Fuchs.

Wayne Kresky is one of the original Imagineers and is the reason the Kingdom Keepers can project themselves back into the Park at night. He directs their objectives. Wanda Alcott, Wayne’s daughter, has a very small part in this installment. Cast Members and characters of the Disney theme parks have begun to take sides. Gladis Philby is Philby’s worried mother—she’s very anti-Keepers—and their chaperone on the trip.

Mattie Weaver is a Fairly and a friend of Amanda and Jess. She’s still “imprisoned”, but when she gets the message from Amanda, nothing will hold her back. Dillard Cole is Finn’s closest friend outside the Keepers and he keeps popping up.

Captain Cederberg is in charge of the Dream; Robert “Uncle Bob” Heinemann is the security officer with a difficult job; Christian is the director of entertainment; and, Storey Ming is a member of the crew, I think, and is helping the Keepers.

Maleficent, the nasty witch from Sleeping Beauty, is the chief villainess and she’s teamed up with Cruella De Vil and the Evil Queen at the Magic Kingdom. For the cruise, she’s working with Jafar and Tia Dalma. Somehow Maleficent has spelled other middleschoolers to do their dirty work—recognizable by their green eyes. Greg “Lousy” Luowski is Finn’s nemesis at school and one of the chief OTKs. Others include Robbie Barry and Sally Ringwald, a conspirator who gets turned. Triton is the King of the Sea and is a powerful backup.

Chernabog seems to be the mastermind behind the Overtakers, a group of Disney characters who want to take over the parks and create their own version of Wonderland.

The Cover
The cover is all-metaphor and finds a close-up of the evil Maleficient’s eyes forming the background, the Miss Tilly is a ship caught in the rocks while a squid-like arm reaches out for Finn and Amanda riding a bright lime-green inner tube on a rushing wave of water at Typhoon Lagoon.

The title refers to the carny game in which a peanut is hidden beneath one of three cups and the mark must choose under which cup the peanut is hidden as the carny moves the cups around to confuse his target. In this Shell Game, the Overtakers have hidden the server they are using to project their own holograms and the Kingdom Keepers keep trying to guess where it is.

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