Author: Damian Dibben
Publisher: Random House Children’s
Published: September 1st 2011
Source: Review Copy from Publishers
Add It: Goodreads, Amazon, The Book Depository
Summary: (From The History Keepers)
When Jake is kidnapped by strangers on a stormy London night he discovers his loving parents have been leading a double life and are now missing, lost somewhere in history. He is plunged into a world of secret societies, dangerous double agents, and a terrifying countdown to oblivion. Transported by a Spanish galleon back to 19th century France, he finds himself in the headquarters of The History Keepers – a remarkable league of time-travelling special agents. The History Keepers preserve the true course of history against those who would change it for their own gain, such as the diabolical Prince Zeldt. Driven by a sense of adventure and a desire to reunite his family, Jake makes the most thrilling – and dangerous – decision of his life.
four out of five hearts
I was going to write this review as soon as I had finished the book, as I should really do for every book I read and review, but I held out because well, I got busy for one and two because I knew that I would be going with Damian Dibben on one of his days on his book tour. (more on this to appear tomorrow) I am now sitting here writing this review thankful that I waited because I feel that my review would have been incomplete if I had posted it before. The day I spent talking with, listening and watching Damian has fuelled a lot of this review, and so has a lot of the feedback that I heard. While how I felt about this book, and the words of this review, are completely my own, the last paragraph will be full of how other people found his book (from my memory because I didn’t record it). I hope that this will help to give a bigger and better picture of The History Keepers: The Storm Begins for you all.
An interesting concept that was really compelling.
In all honesty, I was hooked on this book from just the synopsis but I feel I should make a note here about why. I did not like studying history in school, not because I found it boring but because I found it difficult. Remembering all the different dates, names, and events just wasn’t something that came naturally to me but I was still fascinated by the subject. (Film history in my first year of uni is still one of my favourite subjects). I love the idea of what went on before us. I love historical films and plays but I have never really found a history book that really grabbed at me. Then I read this synopsis and I knew that it sounded like the perfect book to me. Time travelling is definitely an intriguing concept in itself but the way that Damian portrays it within this book was astounding, creative and truly captured my attention. With the synopsis bringing me in to the story, the story itself spoke volumes within me. It was fast-paced, action-packed and so compelling that I found it extremely hard to actually put it down.
Jake Djones is your ordinary fourteen year old boy, until he learns that his parents are missing but not just in modern day, but somewhere, anywhere, in history. They work for an organisation called The History Keepers who travel through time to keep history the same as it has always been known. Jake is quickly thrust into a world that he struggles to comprehend but a very curious nature, a strong, protective and passion filled heart compel him to surge forward and go above and beyond what is expected of him to save his parents. I loved Jake. I liked how he didn’t listen to orders and did what he felt was right, I loved that he followed his heart, that he was smarter than he gave himself credit for and I just enjoyed the journey that he took himself on. Nothing that happened was because someone ordered him to do it, but more because he was ordered specifically not to. He took control of the situation and I loved that about him.
Coming in second.
I also adored all of the secondary characters. Topaz was mysterious and alluring and I wanted to know more about her. I loved Charlie and his parrot and his intellectual nature but my favourite young agent was definitely Nathan. A boy so obsessed with fashion, he worries about it even when they’re in the middle of danger. He was the comedic relief throughout the novel and I very much enjoyed laughing at the jokes he provided throughout the story. I also really loved how he automatically switched to being in charge, of taking everything on his shoulders when it was needed. He may have been light-hearted most of the time, but when it mattered, he had the ability to behave in the best way. It really made his character better. I also adored Jake’s aunt, Rose. She had an energetic, lively nature and had a warm-filled heart too. Jupitus Cole was mysterious and a character you felt you needed to be weary off and I loved that about him. It made me want to know more about him. Jake’s parents were both great too and I just wished we could have spent more time with them – but I have a feeling we might in the upcoming novels! I honestly cannot wait to read more about this characters and the next journey’s that they set off on. I also felt that the age range between the different characters really helped to make this book more universal, I could imagine adults and children alike truly enjoying this story.
The story itself was so brilliant. There was never a truly dull moment, the pace always seeming just right and keeping the reader intrigued while still filling in all the basic background information that was needed. I loved where the agents ended up, I loved the journey that they took, the twists and turns that they had to deal with and just the character and relationship development that occurred throughout the novel. I also thoroughly enjoyed the counter-balance between action and comedy and how well it was dealt with within the story. But really, the best thing about this novel is the concept of time travel and how it happens. The way that anything that happens in the past will still affect the future as they know it, how they age at the same pace no matter what era they’re in and that everything happens as they’ve heard about it in the history books. While Topaz, Jake, Charlie and Nathan were all born centuries apart, they’re still all roughly the same age – a unique and creative concept that I just truly enjoyed. I am incredibly excited to see where they will all head to next – or rather, what will happen to them on their next adventure.
The Children’s Perspective
As promised, this last paragraph will be a quick look at how readers of the target age for this book found the book. It was told that it is a book that has a great, hooking beginning and really grabs the reader into wanting to know more. It was fast-paced, thrilling and exciting and they all just wanted to know what was going to happen next. They loved the variety of characters and everyone had their own favourites. It was also noted that the ending was done well as it left the reader with just enough to keep them sated but left a lot of things up in the air, allowing the trail of mystery to make them eagerly await the next book. In honesty, their feedback was amazing and outstanding and it really opened the book up to me in a way that I hadn’t seen it before and I know that it is a book, and series, that many will grow to love and adore.
All in all this book is a great adventure book that is full of action and comedy, suspense and mystery and really manages to grab the reader. It is never dull or boring, always spurring the action onwards at a fast and captivating pace. It is a book that I would easily be able to read over and over again and would recommend (if I haven’t already) to many people, if not everyone. It is universal in its themes and its address, and I truly believe that children and adults can fall in love with this story. While reading it, I was often reminded of J.K. Rowling and the way she writes and the journey’s that her characters take (especially the first few books) and I find that the magic and mystery in The History Keepers is just as imaginative and creative too. This is a book that you definitely don’t want to miss out on reading.
and, because I found it fascinating, here is the trailer;
stick around today for another post about this book!