The Return: Disney Lands

by Ridley Pearson
First sentence: “
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Content: I was made a bit wary when I started and discovered that the main characters are high school graduates, but (aside from the age) it really is a middle grade novel. Lots of action, a little bit of romance, and easy to follow. It’s in the middle grade (grades 3-5) section of the bookstore.

I got an email, as part of my new role at the store, that Ridley Pearson was interested in coming to visit. I got excited, said hey sure! And then promptly realized that the only thing I’ve ever read by him was Peter and the Starcatchers, which I didn’t really think of as “Ridley Pearson” but more “Dave Barry and the other guy.” So I had the publishers send me a book, partially because I wanted to read it, but also because I wanted to test their claim that it would “bring new readers to the series.”

The series is this: there are five kids who, at night when they sleep, become holographic hosts at Disney World and Disneyland and fight the evil Disney villians for control of the world. They thought their job was done, they’re moving on — graduated from high school and are off to Bigger and Better Things — but WAIT, something has happened and they need to Fix It.

On the one hand, this book is an elaborate set-up, so yeah, it worked for me. I’m sure I missed some in-jokes, and some references went over my head, but as a start of a new adventure, I Got It. The best comparison I can think of (and that I’ve been using with customers) is that reading this without reading the first series is kind of like reading Heroes of Olympus without reading Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. You can do it. It’s probably not the best way to go about it, but it can be done.

In fact, there’s a lot of similarities between Pearson and Riordan’s writing styles: short chapters, a lot of action, overarching mythology, a plethora of characters (7, in fact) to keep track of. The difference is that Pearson is playing around in the world of Disney rather than Greek Mythology. No, they’re not as fun as Riordan’s books (but then, I’m saying that as a long-time Percy Jackson fan), but they are good. It’s good, solid, accessible, middle grade fantasy. Nothing SuperWowAwesome, but it’s not horrible either.

As for the event…

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3 thoughts on “The Return: Disney Lands

  1. Only the first three books in the first series circulate, so I don't think I'll buy. I like Pearson's writing, but I wish he's write something that is a stand alone, or a two book series like Steel Trapp.

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  2. Thank you for your link to Heroes of Olympus and Percy Jackson. I was wondering if this was a completely new series or a jump off of Keepers. I think I will start with Keepers first.

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  3. I LOVED Ridley's first Kingdom Keepers series, and this book definitely satisfied me. It was a little darker than the first series, but I guess that was because Ridley was trying to keep up with his readers, who have grown up with the Keepers. Great review!

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