Review of Keystone (Gatewalkers), by Amanda Frederickson

KeystonesIt was over a year ago, but I downloaded Amanda Frederickson’s Keystone from the Amazon free list.

Description from Goodreads:
Charlie knew it would be one of those days. Saturdays are always crowded at the mall’s virtual reality arcade. But she never imagined it would end in being kidnapped by fairies and bitten by a vampire.

A pair of mischievous pixies have decided that Charlie is the hero who will save their world – whether she wants to or not.

Now, to get back to her own world she must rescue a kidnapped princess and find the broken pieces of an ancient artifact. It also couldn’t hurt to convince her guide that he doesn’t want to defect to the enemy horde. Staying alive would be a nice bonus too.

Yeah, it was one of those days. But this time, the monsters are real.

I’m going to give this book a numeral rating of 3.5. I don’t always, or even often write numbered reviews. But in this case, I think it will help clarify my torn response to this book.

Let me start this review by saying how disappointed I am in this book. It has a wonderfully spunky heroine, a sexy hero, a dangerous antagonist, an engaging quest-based plot, a lot of humour and a whole host of fun side characters. What it does not have is an ending. Worse than that, it doesn’t even pretend that it does. There is NO attempt at a wrap-up or winding down of the plot before breaking for the next book. The book just literally ends out of nowhere.

Now, it’s 200+ pages long, so it’s an appropriate length. But it still feels exactly like someone handed me the first 200 pages of a 400-page book and then denied me the rest. And a denial it is, since there isn’t a second book yet. Someone tell me why authors feel the need to publish half novels? Is it impatience? I enjoyed reading this, but consider it a COMPLETE waste of my time. I don’t like bothering with stories I’ll NEVER see the end of.

Of what there is…I really enjoyed the silliness here. There are a few funny pop references. The characters are witty and largely unflappable, the writing is pretty good and the story itself is interesting. Unfortunately, it’s a relatively complex one. There are a fair number of characters, some history and two different worlds, both of which are only minimally sketched out. For example, Charlie is apparently from some earth-like world in what resembles out near future. It’s not clarified, but it must be near enough for Twilight jokes to still be relevant, but far enough in the future for virtual reality arcades and ultra-pocket computers to be developed, not to mention open acceptance of garish hair colours.

I also thought that the romance was clumsily done. The reader isn’t given any clues about it until suddenly Charlie is endangered and something in Rhys ‘snaps.’ I thought they were a good match, but the author seems to have depended on the predictability of the relationship to situate it, instead of allowing it to develop.

I’m rounding the rating up simply because I did enjoy what I read and a three would be too miserly for the quality of the writing and the bones of the story. But a four is also more than it deserves for having set up soooo many threads and then just walked away and left them ALL hanging without conclusion. But since 1/2 stars aren’t allowed I was forced to choose one way or the other.

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