Book Review: Ridley Pearson’s The Insider

Posted June 16, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews, Young Adult readers

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Ridley Pearson’s The Insider

The Insider


Ridley Pearson

urban fantasy that was published by Disney-Hyperion on April 1, 2014 and has 609 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Disney in Shadow

Seventh in the Kingdom Keepers urban fantasy series for middle-grade readers and revolving around a quintet of teens tasked with saving Disney World. It’s been three years since Dark Passage, 6.

My Take

It’s an active world Pearson has created with a creative assortment of Disney characters who are good or evil. Those brooms for Fantasia are scary! The tension comes from not knowing who or which of the characters will come down on the Keepers’ side and which will turn out to be the enemy. Using the hologram technology pulls in the techies — yep, I’m gadget girl, so it sucks me right in, lol. Still, the book is overlong, primarily because Pearson recaps most of the series.

It’s black ops time for the Keepers as they spy, turn invisible, solve riddles, and battle the OTs — and their own side! — to save the park. Yeah, that’s right. The OTs merely want to kill the Kingdom Keepers. God knows what the Imagineers want to do, but keeping them prisoner, spying on them…it doesn’t say trust, and that midnight meeting Charlene stumbles into doesn’t help. It’s confusing to me as well if only because of those college scholarships.

There is an unexpected bit of history that is revealed to the Keepers. Some is disquieting, and some of it is more fascinating about Mr. Disney and Wayne. The role Disney expected Wayne to play, that Wayne has been grooming Finn for.

After events in Dark Passage, Finn’s parents made him see a shrink. You’ll crack up when you read how that ended!

Pearson creates an awestruck note when Minnie shows up and ups the tension as well. More tension and suspense swells as the race to find out what the OTs are seeking, the scavenger hunt to find it, and that momentary stop as the truth of it comes out. It made me want to know a lot more about Disneyland and Walt’s start. Pearson has nicely incorporated the start of Disney and the evolution of his Mouse. You’ll want to search out some of the old films!

It’s the recovery of the “treasure” that brings up an interesting section on symbolism that explains it well and that writers might want to read.

The Story

Senior prom. At Disney World. If Finn can ignore the prom’s location and concentrate on dancing with Amanda…

But the Overtakers have only gotten better, and it will force the Keepers to downgrade from DHI 2.0 back to 1.6. They won’t be as invulnerable.

This is the big one. They’re playing for keeps now and to save Mickey. A Mickey no one has seen in decades.

The Characters

The DHIs, Disney Host Interactives, are…
…holograms which interact with guests at the two Disney parks; the good Disney characters call them the Children of Light. Being a DHI is more of a cover for their true role: Kingdom Keepers. In their sleep, they cross over into Disney and do battle with the Overtakers. The models for the DHIs have earned full college scholarships and include Finn Whitman, who is the leader of the DHIs and still has his superstrength from Dark Passage. He’s also in love with Amanda Lockhart, a Fairlie with a telekinetic power, who has become an unofficial member of the gang along with Jess whose ability is in the dreams she has of the future, her “sister” in heart, and another Fairlie, one who is harboring feelings for Maybeck. Other official members include Dill Philby, a.k.a., Professor Philby; Charlene Turner is the athlete of the team and has been offered her own TV series; Terry Maybeck is an artist and in love with Charlene (she does return it); and, Willa is brainy and quiet.

Aunt Jelly runs a pottery shop, Crazy Glaze, and is the woman who raises Maybeck. Finn’s mom is still recovering from being overtaken. Mrs. Nash is Amanda and Jess’ foster mother.

We first met Storey Ming in Shell Game, 5, and none of the Keepers are sure whose side she’s truly on. Dillard Cole was Finn’s best friend from school, and he died in Dark Passage. He’s back now.

Disney employees
Wayne Kresky is a Disney Legend, helped Walt design Disneyland and then Disney World, and is a founding member of the Imagineers. Now he guides the DHIs. Wanda Alcott is his daughter and has helped in the past. Brad is an Imagineer technician. Joe.

Bert is a security guard as is Ava Gardner, although she’s a stickler for everything in its place. William is the usual night delivery driver. Craig is a Cast Member at Disneyland.

The Archives hold the history and the knowledge of the parks. The Crypt is a bunker Disney built, and it holds the Morgue, a repository of retired Disney materials.

Disney characters who choose the good include…
Rajah, the tiger who protects Princess Jasmine; Timon is a meerkat; Pumba, the warthog; King Triton; Violet from The Incredibles; the rats from Ratatouille show up, including Remy and Django; Minnie Mouse has an important part to play; Prince Phillip and King Arthur’s knights will show up; Rapunzel with her hair; and, Elsa the Snow Queen whose powers will prove valuable.

Mickey Mouse is the character the OTs most want to destroy.

Brooke is a visitor to the park who helps Finn. A lot. Austin is a senior who wants to get on her good side.

The Overtakers (OTs) are…
…the Disney villains who plan to steal the parks’ magic and change their world. Tia Dalma, a Creole witch doctor, has survived events in Dark Passage. Worse, she’s bringing back to life Chernabog, the most evil of Disney’s creations, the Evil Queen with her conjuring, and Cruella de Vil.

The Wraiths will suck the light right out of you. Madame Leota is a ghost in love with Master Gracey, and she killed his bride, Constance. Jafar is a powerful sorcerer, and Iago is his parrot. The weasels in Judge Doom’s Toon Patrol are indestructible unless they’re laughing. Card soldiers, dolls, and more…

SBS is Sleeping Beauty Syndrome, a type of coma a Kingdom Keeper falls into if they are trapped in their DHI form. DHI shadow enables a DHI to disappear. Fairlies have supernatural abilities.

The Cover and Title

The cover is an eye-catching combination of black, orange, and bright blue in a collage of events within the story. The evil eyes of Tia Dalma loom large in the night sky with the entrance to the Disney kingdom in front of her, the pavement breaking up into flaming chunks of stone.

The title refers to one who can save the park and reverse the damage: The Insider.