I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “The Secret Keepers” by Trenton Lee Stewart! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:
“When Reuben discovers an extraordinary antique watch, he soon learns it has a secret power and his life takes an intriguing turn. At first he is thrilled with his new treasure, but as one secret leads to another, Reuben finds himself torn between his innately honest nature and the lure to be a hero.
Now he is on a dangerous adventure–full of curious characters, treacherous traps, and hairsbreadth escapes–as he races to solve the mystery before it is too late. Even with fearless Penny, mighty Jack, and the wise Mrs. Genevieve on his side, can Reuben outwit and outmaneuver the sly villain called The Smoke and his devious defenders the Directions and save the city from a terrible fate?”
Worldbuilding Development: 3 out of 5 stars
Plot Development: 3 out of 5 stars
I liked the concept of the Directions, as well as the Smoke. I just think they got overshadowed by the story of the Meyers presented about midway through the book (I won’t elaborate on that too much due to major plot spoilers), and I wish there was more involvement of the Directions and Smoke in this book other than in the last third of the book and a little bit in the first third. There are many mentions of them in conversation, but the amount of actual dialogue and/or in-person action they have in the book is quite minimal, so that was disappointing to me as a reader. I do like how they attempted manipulating things behind the scenes by trying to force Ms. Genevieve to report Reuben and his friends to them when she sees them again, but it’s still not a lot.
In terms of both plot and worldbuilding development, I wish the reason why the watch was so important in the plot was shown sooner than it was in the book. For the first third of the book, the sole reason I knew the watch was important was because it used to belong to the Smoke. Yes, this brings reasoning to why the Directions and others were hunting down Reuben to try getting the watch, but I didn’t know anything about why this particular watch was important to the Smoke until about halfway through the book. Because of this, the information required to understand such a vital piece of the plot was all dumped in the second half of the book, which I didn’t enjoy.
What I found most interesting about the plot, however, was the whole notion of ‘secrets.’ Many of them get uncovered throughout the story, and I can’t discuss all of them because that would spoil a good chunk of the plot, but I like how the whole story started with uncovering a secret, and ends with burying a secret.
Character Development: 3 out of 5 stars
I sympathize with Reuben and his mother, even if they are the most normal people in the whole book. They’re trying to live a decent life, they’re behind on their rent and struggling to make ends meet. Reuben initially wanting to sell the watch made sense on his part, given the situation they were in. I do love Reuben’s curiosity, and how it led him into do so much of what he did for the rest of the main story.
Unfortunately, though many of the other main characters are present and along with Reuben (particularly Ms. Genevieve, Penny, and Jack), they did not have a lot of development. I liked them for what quirks they had on them, with Genevieve being the most worrisome and all for example, but they did not develop a lot other than what depth was given on them with their backstories, which was disappointing.