About the Book
The Order of the Key by Justine Manzano
Published on July 9, 2020 by Black Rose Writing
GoodReads DescriptionJacklyn Madison never expected to be attacked by a beast on an evening snack run. Add a rescue mission enacted by a trained regiment of teenaged warriors, and her night officially becomes just like a scene from one of her beloved comic books. Turns out, her parents were once members of the Order of the Key, gifted humans that protect humanity from creatures spilling through inter-dimensional rifts. Unable to control her newfound abilities, Jacklyn and her family rejoin the Order.
After an attack on their headquarters leaves Jacklyn questioning their leadership, Kyp--the boy who led her initial rescue--reveals a darker secret. The Order's leader may be corrupt, and Jacklyn's questions could put her family in danger. Drawn into the search for proof, Jacklyn must use her guts and magical brawn to protect her family, her friends, and herself from the monsters spilling from rifts, and those hiding within the Order.
When I received the review request for this book, I noticed the comparison to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Immediately intrigued, I accepted the request for this novel and am so happy that I did! I was definitely entertained from cover to cover!
Let's start with a few of the positives.
Manzano absolutely kills it with characterization in this novel. She makes it so very easy for her audience to picture each of the characters right down to the sounds of their voices. I was blown away. I had a lot of fun with this because I created a voice for Lavinia and was able to hear it in my mind throughout the novel. Manzano put true effort into her characters and it shows!
In addition to fabulous characterization, she does a great job with world building as well. This book is set during modern times, so the audience starts with a wonderful understanding of the world presented to them. Where Manzano truly drives it home, however, is when she introduces the world of The Order. Now, even though she is discussing modern times, she is forced to introduce bureaucracy, monsters, training, and even intrigue and jealousy. Although so much of the novel takes place within The Order's home base, I truly felt like I had been plucked from one world and placed in another.
When combined, the world building and characterization make a fun, easy to read piece. By choosing to make her story fast-paced and exciting, Manzano left me no option but to hang on to the edges for dear life and turn pages as quickly as I could.
Unfortunately, there were a few things that I took issue with as well.
Too much of the novel was predictable. I could not have predicted the entire novel, but I would have appreciated a few more twists and turns as well. I think a larger number of surprises would have fit this fast-paced novel much better than the ones the audience is given.
Throughout the novel, a certain level of confusion accompanied my reading. This is due, in part, to Manzano choosing to put so much information into such a short novel. She would have lost quite a lot of substance had she chosen to cut information out. It would have been very helpful to have had a dramatis personae or other way to keep track of characters and important monsters.
I had truly hoped for a more spectacular end to this novel. Instead, the ending feels rather rushed. I believe Manzano chose to end it this way in order to set up for a sequel. I wish she would have found a different way to do it. This novel needed an ending that tied up at least one loose end.
Overall, I freaking loved this book! I can't wait to see what Manzano brings us next!