Friday 24 July 2020

Book Review - The Order of the Key

Title: The Order of the Key
Author: Justine Manzano
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Release Date: 9 July 2020
ISBN-13: 978-1684335046

Jacklyn Madison never expected to be attacked by a beast on an evening snack run. Add a rescue mission enacted by a trained regiment of teenaged warriors, and her night officially becomes just like a scene from one of her beloved comic books. Turns out, her parents were once members of the Order of the Key, gifted humans that protect humanity from creatures spilling through inter-dimensional rifts. Unable to control her newfound abilities, Jacklyn and her family rejoin the Order.
After an attack on their headquarters leaves Jacklyn questioning their leadership, Kyp--the boy who led her initial rescue--reveals a darker secret. The Order's leader may be corrupt, and Jacklyn's questions could put her family in danger. Drawn into the search for proof, Jacklyn must use her guts and magical brawn to protect her family, her friends, and herself from the monsters spilling from rifts, and those hiding within the Order.

My Review
I was given this by a family member to read so we could compare opinions on the book. I have never heard of the author before so was pretty open minded going in.
The blurb sounded ok, I like fantasy style books so it looked like it would fit my tastes, but I was surprised by how much was given away, it tells you straight away that the leader is corrupt - this is something that could have been used as a shock reveal within the book, but here you go into the story knowing that it's going to end up in fights and danger. This kind of ruined it a little bit for me, I like to figure out what a character is like from how well they are written, this was just handed across on a platter.

The book starts by introducing Jacklyn, a typical high school girl - a bit of a nerd but also quite athletic, someone who doesn't really fit in and wonders why, but also doesn't take any rubbish from others and at least has the courage to stand up for herself against the bullies - even if that does mean taking a few punches. Things then escalate pretty quickly - on her way home from school she gets attacked by strange monsters and mysteriously saved by a duo who seem to know everything about her. They save her, but not before she kicks a bit of butt herself, but with her new found powers acting like a beacon to every monster in the area, her family pack up and move to the 'Orders' headquarters.
Once there, Jacklyn is put through all sorts of tests and trained in the ways of the Order. But problems build up and there are plenty of fights between the members of the Order and the leader, and between extra monsters that seem to be able to break through the protection wards - 'i wonder how that could happen'? Oh yeah, the leader is corrupt!

There are a host of characters, Jacklyn herself who I feel has the potential to be quite a good lead heroine but just needs a bit more substance. We then have Kyp - the guy who rescues her, again he has the whole mysterious, broody teen thing going on and comes across quite interesting but I want to know more about him. You learn a little bit about their childhood but not a lot overall, it just leaves them all feeling a little bit 2-dimensional. Of course, we also have the traditional love angst, one minute Kyp and Jacks are madly in love, then they are arguing, then one of them is disappearing or giving the silent treatment or acting like an ass, and then they are in love again. It's a bit too much turmoil for such a short book.
I liked Cass as a character, she is Kyp's guardian, but unfortunately she doesn't feature that much which leaves you wanting to know more about her and a bit frustrated that she only appears when it's convenient for the story. It's pretty much like that for all the other characters, Gana, Juliana, Kylie, Ross etc.

The story is quite well paced for the first half, just revealing enough to keep you interested then throwing you into a bit of action. The second half of the story then seems to go into overdrive and suddenly everything is happening, people are dying, fighting and running. It was just a blur of action.
For the most part, I would say that the story was pretty predictable, I could guess who would die, who would run, who would return etc. Nothing about this book surprised me.
At only 220 pages it was an easy enough read and fairly enjoyable, but I think that it could do with some more background, more character development and more variety of pacing. Change the synopsis to take out the reveal of the leader being corrupt and this could be a winning story. Just feels like it needs a bit of work at the moment.
But if you want a really easy, quick fantasy escape this is still worth giving it a go.

My Rating

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