Thursday, 12 February 2015

Keeper of the Wind

Keeper of the Wind

Mark Shaw

4 out of 5

When a trio of high school seniors list three ancient artifacts for sale on eBay, professor and archeologist of native artifacts, Mitch Waters, believes he hit the jackpot. But is he concerned more with historical preservation or his own fame and fortune?

Author Mark A. Shaw brings together an unlikely yet entertaining trio of high school seniors, each of a different race and upbringing, who are separated from their senior class during a high school camping trip. On their own in the wilderness, they come across three authentic artifacts in a hidden cave. 

The events that unfold once they return to safety and attempt to sell their newfound treasures on eBay intersect modern with ancient worlds, superstition with truth, and trust with trickery. In the tradition of children’s literature classics, The Keeper of the Wind takes readers on a magical and enthralling journey, along which three best friends learn the true meaning of friendship, teamwork, and perseverance.

This page-turning read introduces Mark A. Shaw as a powerful up-and-coming young adult fiction novelist, leaving readers to wonder: Will there be a sequel?

When best friends Marcus, Olivia and Tim get separated from the rest of their group on a school trip, they could never have guessed what would come.  They follow their adventurous streak and discover powerful Native American artefacts, thought lost long ago.

This is a very sweet book.  There's a lot of emphasis on being the person you want to be, regardless of your background and start in life.  The mutual respect, whether it is between friends; between family; or between a teen and adult - it is always in a bright and positive light.
Shaw steers clear of many clich├ęs of high school genres.  It was refreshing to read about kids that actually get on with school, and look forward to college.  There is only one incident of two guys not getting on, but it shows the importance of friendship and rising above such quarrels.  There are relationships, but again, there is a feeling of maturity and respect, they grow in a natural way throughout the book.

The story is from multiple points of view, and I don't just mean our main 3!  Everyone gets an opinion, family, the wider group of friends, the native chief, the bad guy, his goons... but once you get used to it, it flows smoothly and actually works well to give a well-rounded feel to the book.

There were a couple of points that I struggled with.
To start with, I felt there was a lot of exposition, which left very little to discover with some of the characters.  For example, we are told that Josette (Tim's new girlfriend) has trust issues because of an ex-boyfriend.  This is done in the same paragraph as we are given a similar bio of Fatima (Marcus' new girlfriend), and is done right before they are given their role in the story.
To be fair, once the back stories had all had their limelight in the first quarter of the book, the rest of it allowed you to start to connect for said characters, and was much smoother.

Have you all seen The Princess Bride? I know, we all have. (Stick with me, there's a reason)  You know where the grandad is reading the story, but breaks off to remind the little boy that something was or wasn't going to happen, or that so-and-so isn't really dead... I kinda got that same feeling from the story-telling, that it could have been a grandad surrounded by his grandkids, telling them his favourite story.  Which is a good thing, believe me, I only mention it down here because there was one thing that nagged me.  There was a section where there's a pause in the storytelling to inform us that one character wasn't as up to speed with us.  But repeatedly. Minor spoiler: Like when Professor Waters doesn't know that the eagle was, in fact, Marcus.  Yeah, I think we worked that out by the fact that the Professor was being carried by said eagle, and was confused and worried about Marcus being left with the bad guys.

And my final little niggle was that I was surprised that our trio of heroes didn't share with their friends or family, the fact that they'd found something important, or that they were in trouble with some very dangerous people.  Ok, it could be for their own safety; but during the scenes at school or with their girlfriends, there was no hint that they were pre-occupied with their adventure.  It almost felt like two distinct stories in places.

So... all in all, it was a good read.  I enjoyed it, I think it's quite refreshing in many areas.  It was a 3.5 out of 5 for me, and I'll definitely be following the rest of the series.

Goodreads link

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