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 83 days after purchase)