Please don't count how many old "reviews" of mine say "review later", "more later", or variations thereupon. ... Actually, just ignore my blog until further notice.
Tentative 3.5 stars for now. My opinions of books tend to go up as my time away from them increases. I read 90% of this novel in a single day, only getting up to stretch or eat, which was all good fun but makes my memory of the middle 400 pages a bit blurred and unreliable. Spoilers under the break.
Crystal Keepers has the strongest beginning of the series so far. It's not eventful, per se, but it nails its job of re-orienting you with the world and characters. I loved the bickering between Cole, Dalton, and Jace right at the start.
Leaving Elloweer made me a bit sad. We didn't get much of a goodbye from Twitch or Skye, who were two of my favorites. I hope we see them again.
There were a lot of running gags I thought were fun. Jace not knowing how to open a soda can, Cole having to explain to Mira what anime is, little things like that. I also enjoyed the makeovers the kids got to help them hide from the City Patrol. Most of the Crystal Keeper kids were cool, Roulette in particular
As I said, I read so fast that much of the storyline is a blur. I need to learn to slow down and absorb everything. It's hard for me to tell whether what I disliked was a result of actual dislike or just the groggy feeling I had while reading.
Around the time where we found Datapoint and Aero is when I lost some of the connection with the story. The background with Aero trying to take over was actually something I liked, and it was cool how Brandon Mull played with the formatting for those conversations. It just proved an adjustment, being introduced to so many fun new characters and then being torn away from them to walk through sewers and talk to computers.
I think the hardest part of Crystal Keepers was that Cole spent so much time alone in the last third or so. Jace and Joe have grown on me a lot, Dalton's good, and I was curious about Roulette, so to be apart from them for that long wasn't my favorite. I guess that's how Cole would have felt, too.
I liked that we got to see the High King up close. Stafford is an awful person, but you realize he isn't as bad as he seems and isn't even the biggest problem in the Outskirts. While I felt a little off-balance learning about Nazeem, not having heard the name before that I can remember though it reminds me of a certain Oscar award name slip-up, I appreciated that we'd had a chance to hear about Owandell in Rogue Knight so he didn't come out of nowhere.
Now about one of my favorite sections of the book: Joe's story.
Joe is in the same vein of characters I typically like: rough-and-tumble, knowledgeable, kind of a makeshift leader of sorts. But because he's more reserved than Ferrin or Warren, we don't know as much about him. It was so nice to understand where he came from and how he got where he is. I've hardly stopped thinking about him and Gwen for the last 24 hours. Even though it's so sad for him to lose his fiancée and for her not even to notice he's gone, I approved of his decision to leave her Outside. It would have been wrong to bring her with him.
That also serves as a bit of foreshadowing for the plot twist with the Hunter. Or rather, just Hunter. Finding out his true identity was one of those moments where I had to set the book down and just stare blankly ahead for a few seconds. I don't often like the lost family member plotline, but at least here there's a believable reason Cole wouldn't have known, and it adds to the emotional stakes without feeling too forced.
Don't ask me how Roxie managed to be a surprise, given the huge bright red robotic dragon on the cover. I guess I'd assumed that Aero would be the main threat, or that maybe this book wouldn't have an equivalent to Carnag or the Rogue Knight or Morgassa. Silly me.
So. Overall, mostly positive feelings. Will definitely buy the last two. Necronum and Creon sound like they could be fantastic, and I look forward to (hopefully!) finding Jenna.