Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Owl Keeper by Christine Brodien-Jones

Title: The Owl Keeper
Author: Christine Brodien-Jones
Publisher: Delacorte Press
ARC, 306 pages
Date Published: April 13, 2010

Description (Taken from Goodreads)
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.

Years in the future, the world we all know has been transformed and the High Echelon is in charge of everything. The citizens are assigned to jobs and lives and the once beautiful land and wildlife is nonexistent. The silver owls that once roamed the skies are said to be extinct and both their song and their magic is gone. Max Unger is an often scared, frail eleven year old boy who has lived much of his life in the dark. Max is told that he is allergic to sun particles, so the majority of his time is spent indoors. His nights give him freedom and he roams the land around his home. One night, Max discovers a beautiful silver owl. Several nights later, a bossy, wild-looking girl by the name of Rose comes into Max’s life and changes it forever. Max and Rose set out on an adventure that tests their character and hope.

The Owl Keeper is an exquisite story of the hope that children can cling to. The start is a little slow, but once I hit page 70 or so, the action was non-stop and I couldn’t even put the book down. The beginning really builds the story and since there is so much to know about this world that Max is living in and the mythology surrounding it, the build up is necessary. Once the lore is set in place, we begin to see the cracks in the High Echelon's society turn into fissures. Max quickly realizes that maybe all is not as it seems and he begins to blossom as a character. It is impossible not to love Max and I was completely devoted to everything he is going through. When Max was younger, he did everything with his grandmother and that’s how he discovered his love for the night. He used to go exploring with his Gran and spend hours learning about the silver owls, but when Max is 7, his Gran dies and everything changes. Little things remind Max of his Gran and you can really feel that loss and despair radiating off of him.

Rose is the complete opposite of Max. She’s fearless and outspoken and a rough and tumble kind of girl. She drives Max crazy, but he still adores her and the reader will too. Their friendship grows so much throughout the novel and their layers are peeled away perfectly. The world of The Owl Keeper is expertly crafted with so many interesting creatures and places. Christine Brodien-Jones has created an entirely new world with mythological creature and prophecies. It is absolutely absorbing and a refreshing dystopian novel. I will say that it feels much more like a MG novel than a YA novel, but I still loved it. The ending leaves it open for a sequel, but could also be an open ending that lets the reader imagine what could follow.

Opening line: When Max first saw the girl that night, standing beneath the owl tree, he thought she was ghost or a vision, or maybe a comic-book character come to life. ~ pg. 1

Favorite line: Absolute Dark, he realized, was here. ~ pg. 117

*This is the ARC version and words, sentences, cover art, etc. may have changed before official publication

*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.


elizabeth said...

Sounds interesting. I think my little sister will like this book.

My Book Barn said...

Sounds like a good read! Thanks for sharing! I do like the cover.

Charlotte said...

This one is on my list!

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