A long time ago, in fact for Megan’s birthday in December last year, I picked up this book – Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark. It’s not a book that I knew much about, but I had spoken to Amy about them (who has read it and several in the series afterwards) and she thought it would be something Megs would like. However as Megan was so into reading at the time, she got loads of books for her birthday and this definitely wasn’t top of her list to read. Lily and I had been reading larger, more grown-up books at bedtime together, and so when we finished the Roald Dahl book we were reading, we made our way on to this.
First the positives. It really is a great book, especially if you love Disney. Set in Walt Disney World park (and Florida generally), the story centres around five kids who have been picked out to be DHI’s (Disney Interactive Hosts). They have been made into holograms who show park guests around the park – but this of course means the real kids are only allowed in the parks under certain circumstances, with permission and in disguise – so they don’t spoil the magic. None of the kids know each other, they just showed up for auditions, got picked out and then got videoed etc so their holograms could be made. ANYWAY, there’s trouble brewing in the park and it brings these five kids together. After dark, when they go to sleep, the kids somehow find themselves in the park – in their DHI form. They have to figure out what the Overtakers are doing and how to stop them and it’s really quite exciting. As someone who had visited Florida only recently when we started the books, it was so nice to have a way to remember the park – to be able to know the places that were referenced and even be scared by the thought that some of the rides might come to life and attack you!! Lily and I thoroughly enjoyed the book and of course moved on to the next one, which by that point I had bought for her, not Megan.
The negatives. There aren’t many to be honest but the major one as someone reading the book aloud, was definitely the language and grammar. If you were just reading the book yourself, then I’m sure you wouldn’t notice it as much but reading aloud definitely caused the odd confusion or complication. Large patches of speech didn’t have “said Finn”, “said Amanda” etc. which could get make following the conversation a little difficult. I found myself adding these as I read it, or re-wording the odd thing here and there, just so Lily would understand. On top of that, the first book in the series was written quite some time ago (2005 I think) and because of that certain changes have happened in the parks. The major one I noticed was the reference to MCM which of course is now Hollywood Studios, so again this is something I changed as I read.
Overall it was a fantastic book and as I said, Lily and I have already moved on to the second book in the series (and she has the next few after that as well). We love our villains so it was a little hard not to champion the bad guys at points, but all in all we liked Finn and his friends enough to want them to succeed. Having gone on to the next book already before writing this, I feel like the second book does improve with language in some aspects, (though the conversation points are still the same and the parts where they use VMK and usernames is a bit complicated) but more importantly the characters seem better developed and more likeable too.
If you love a Disney book and especially want to read about Magic Kingdom (and the second one is Animal Kingdom) then give them a read. There are about seven or eight in the series I think and then there are spin-off books too.