on July 31, 2013 :
This book starts off with intense action, and just keeps on going. It sucks you in, grabs you and just doesn't let go.
The characters are awesome. They are real-to-life, from Jacob to his family to his friends to the minor characters. They're well thought-out, easily believable, and convincing.
I like the subtilties of the characters as well. Some of them, you simply don't know if they're going to be bad or good, but it's so subtle you start to question motives. As you read, it's apparent they could swing either way. I like books where there's a gray area between good and evil; bad people don't necessarily always do bad things, ya know? Some of them you're not sure what's motivating them...you know there's something behind the scenes, and you just have to keep reading to discover some of the lurking secrets.
There's a take on fallen angels that was refreshing; I haven't read an urban fantasy that quite depicted them this way.
The plot moves fairly well. It cruises along nicely, though the end felt a little rushed. Sort of like being at a great party and the host suddenly shoves you out the door, saying "Party's over!" Some resolutions could have been lingered over, given us a little more detail and substance. While I accept the ending as far as the main characters, I didn't believe the reactions of the families involved who didn't know what was going on.
One other thing that bothered me just a little bit, was the preachy feel toward the end. It felt intrusive. Though I understand the motivation behind it, it didn't fit in with the natural flow of the story.
Despite that, I have to say one of my favorite indie reads of the year!
(review of free book)
on May 28, 2013 :
This was entertaining and inventive, but a bit too religious for me. I have no problem suspending my disbelief in order to enjoy a good paranormal novel that's got demons and angels and whatnot it it, but I must admit that in this case it felt just a little too much like I was being preached to.
(review of free book)
on Feb. 28, 2012 :
This book has plenty of problems. There are characterization and backstory problems that had me scratching my head throughout. There are numerous stylistic sins. There are many grammatical errors, some of which are unforgivable from an experienced writer. There are number-agreement errors, case errors, back-referent errors, and pronoun abuse until Will Strunk is whirling in his grave. There are even a couple of outright spelling errors.
The only thing that saves The Soulkeepers is a highly imaginative, absolutely TERRIFIC story.
Mrs. Ching, get yourself a good editor! There are plenty of them out there. A good one will help your storyteller’s gift to take wing. *And* he’ll save you from having to read a paragraph like my first one above, ever again.
All that having been said, The Soulkeepers offers many pleasures. Evolutions of the ideas in Genesis Chapter 6 have been attempted before, but I’d have to put yours at the front of the pack. Jacob’s and Malini’s adventures are gripping, and the ambiguities surrounding Abigail are equally intriguing. For a Christian fantasy, it indulges in only one excess that I can detect: It allows the Fallen to affect events on Earth directly, which is heretical (Manichaeanism). However, that’s so commonplace in Christian fantasy that it barely merits a tsk, tsk.
I heartily approve of this direction in Christian YA fiction and I’m looking forward to reading the second and third volumes in this series. But really, truly DO get yourself an editor. It would be a genuine pity if stories this good should go out into the world with so many avoidable blemishes!
4.5 stars, but I’m “rounding up.” Well done!
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on Nov. 29, 2011 :
G.P.Ching is a beautiful storyteller with a vivid imagination. Not every author will manage to put together an angry half-Chinese boy, a mysterious Indian girl, strange powers, secret gardens, Fallen angels and one big vegetarian cat, and pull it off.
I really enjoyed this book, because it was that strange and eery. The concept of Fallen angels and those who protect humans from them is not unique, but the way G.P.Ching brings the story to life is enchanting.
The characters are really well done and have their own multiple layers, - Jacob and Malini opposing to prejudiced kids in a tiny American town, Dr.Silva in her haunted Victorian house and her weird herbal teas, creepy Fallen angels....
The writing is very engaging, I simply flew through the book. It gets pretty intense closer to the end and involves other dimensions and a fierce battle between Good and Evil. I am very much looking forward to book #2 Weaving Destiny, which I'll probably pick up sometime next year.
Great read and much recommended.
(review of free book)
on Sep. 11, 2011 :
What a great story! The Soulkeepers revolves around half-Chinese/half-Caucasian Jacob Lau, a teenager living alone with his mother on the island of Oahu. He suddenly wakes up in a hospital after having a near-death experience, and afterward, his mother goes missing. Now apparently orphaned, an uncle he has never met takes young Jacob home to a rural town in Illinois called Paris (ironically nothing at all like the famous city in France).
Across the street from his uncle's house lives Dr. Abigail Silva, a strange, but uber beautiful woman who eventually tells Jacob all about his true identity. He is a Soulkeeper, a descendant of God who has special abilities to manipulate the elements in order to protect the souls of mankind on Earth.
I love how cleverly the Judeo-Christian mythos is weaved into the story to explain what Soulkeepers are and how they came to be. Jacob doesn't even believe in God, as he is a sort of atheist, but that which the Old Testament claims just keeps coming to pass all throughout the story in unique ways. All of the supernatural gets explained by what is contained mostly in the book of Genesis and it's all very fascinating.
Jacob is realistically written and easy to sympathize with, as is Malini, his best friend. I liked Dr. Silva, and discovering her back-story and that of her super intelligent cat, Gideon, helped turn both of them into some riveting characters. We discover the mystery surrounding Jacob's mother, but there is also a mystery surrounding his deceased father and his family. I get the feeling what little was explained in this volume is not the true extent of it. I'm sure there's more to the Laudner family than meets the eye, so I'm looking forward to the next book to see what will be revealed.
Besides having a winning cover (Jacob is gorgeous!), The Soulkeepers casts well-developed characters in a plot that naturally and gradually unfolds its mysteries over the course of the story just perfectly, leaving the reader wanting to uncover more and more
(review of free book)
on Aug. 04, 2011 :
The Soulkeepers by G.P. Ching brought tears to my eyes. Though it’s not a tragedy, this YA novel pulls the reader along with teenage Jacob Lau as he struggles to come to terms with his life after the loss of his mother. In the small Mid-western town of Paris, Jacob lives with the Laudners – a family he never knew existed until after the car accident that robbed him of his mother. His father had died long before, so his only remaining kin took him into their home. But not all is as it seems. Why had Jacob’s parents never mentioned Uncle John? Why did his father change his last name? What really happened during the car accident?
Determined to find his mother, faced with bigotry and persecution from the townsfolk and even within his own family, Jacob finds a single friend in Malini – another outsider. Soon, however, mysterious forces call to Jacob, and he must answer the biggest mystery of all. What power lies within himself, and can he trust an enigmatic stranger to teach him to harness it?
This book works on so many levels. There’s romance, mystery, adventure, and a fair amount of violence. There’s also a spiritual battle, not only between creatures of another realm but a battle within Jacob himself. How can he reconcile his atheism with what he learns about himself and his place in the world?
I really enjoyed this book. Although categorized as Young Adult fiction, The Soulkeepers would appeal to almost all age groups, with the exception of the very young. There are high stakes and violence, but nothing gratuitous, though I personally think the book’s battle scene is the best I’ve ever read. The main plot points are resolved, yet there is clearly room for another book. The story brought up deeper themes than I wouldn’t have expected and that I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come.
I read the book on my Simple Touch NOOK ereader device. There were no noticable errors, the text and formatting were well done, and the Table of Contents worked perfectly. The cover of the book was interesting and fit the text.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on July 06, 2011 :
The Soulkeepers has a really interesting concept, and it's like nothing I've read before. Jacob seems to be your usual teenager struggling to fit into a new school in a new town after his mother disappears. He has trouble with the "popular crowd" and can't wait to get out of this dull new town that he hates so much. That might seem fairly run of the mill, but not many teenagers begin their books by coming back from the dead. Nor do they see their mothers fighting monsters. Most of all, they're not usually Soulkeepers - Jacob has a mystical bond with, and power over, the element of water. He encounters the local botanist, Dr Silva, who turns out to be a lot more than she appears, and she starts training him up to be able to fulfil his destiny. Along the way, he gets himself a girlfriend in the shape of Malini, a fellow social outcast.
If the word 'soul' gets you thinking that this is probably a bit deeper than your usual "teen with a superpower" fiction, then you'd be right. It's not just about teenagers throwing tantrums and pouting all over the place (are you listening, Bella?) In The Soulkeepers, Jacob encounters questions of faith, both in humanity and in a higher power, and the book really kicks things up a gear when we meet the villains of the piece - the fallen angels. They're a truly nasty bunch, which leads to an amazing setpiece between our hapless heroes and the demons in disguise, but I won't say much more because I don't want to spoil it.
Now, I've always been a sucker for angels but having had a fairly secular upbringing, I'm not overtly keen on religious fiction. However, GP has such a knack for storytelling that The Soulkeepers is a less a story about religion and more a story about finding faith - it doesn't necessarily have to be in a particular deity, even just faith in the universe itself will suffice. Jacob's quest for peace with the Almighty could be substituted for anything - hell, if Dr Silva was two feet tall and green, then Jacob could easily be the young Skywalker.
As far as characters go, GP has created a cool bunch here. Jacob is moody but with good cause, and Malini strikes me as being that quiet, shy kid at school who would actually be a really awesome friend if you bothered to say hi. The relationship between them feels very genuine and unfolds at just the right pace. Dr Silva is completely badass, and I actually found myself warming to her more and more as the book went on. However, favourite character has got to be Gideon - you'll see why.
All in all, I really enjoyed The Soulkeepers, and got so engrossed that I think I read the last quarter of the book in one sitting. I highly recommend it!
(reviewed long after purchase)
on May 22, 2011 :
The Soulkeepers, a young adult, paranormal fantasy by G.P. Ching, is a delightful read. I loved the unique take on the age old good vs. evil plot. The characters in The Soulkeepers are well developed as well as the dark world the story takes us to.
Filled with action, danger, and a sweet budding romance between Jacob and Malini, The Soulkeepers is a difficult novel to put down. I highly recommend it!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on April 14, 2011 :
** SOME SPOILERS MAY ENSUE! **
By the time I picked up The Soulkeepers, I had read a lot about it and couldn't wait to dive in. I wasn't disappointed!
From the moment Jacob wakes up in a hospital bed with a "damaged brain", he is a very relatable character, especially for me personally. My heart went out to him as he journeyed from not caring about anyone or anything to opening his heart and having faith. You can't help but root for Jacob to come around. A fantastic good vs. evil plot that will continue to grow as the story continues in subsequent novels.
One thing that I found entrancing was how Jacob was forced to trust Dr. Silva because he had no other choice. To not to meant having no chance of finding his mom. And when his powers became evident... I wasn't 100% sure about Dr. Silva until the very end, the epilogue actually and what we learn there. Very well done!
One more thing I loved is G.P. Ching's take on fallen angels. Gone are the sad, sorry beings who only want to be loved and find salvation for the ability to return to Heaven. Ching's fallen angels are gritty, edgy, and hedonistic. I LOVED IT! They indulge in everything sinful and self-indulging, very appropriate considering why they are fallen.
I would consider this book a contemporary Christian thriller. The creatures and activities of Jacob's world are brought to life in HD color - you can't help but get sucked in from the first words. I definitely can't wait for the continuation of Jacob, Malini, and Dr. Silva's journey.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)