This is the third book in a series for mid-grade lovers of computer games. The authorís highly imaginative use of a computer game environment as the framework for her stories effectively captures the attention of those who might spend more time on the computer than in reading. Each book raises the bar, tension wise, thereby encouraging the series readers to clamor for the next installment, just like the different levels of computer games. She is to be commended for tackling an anti-reading environment and turning it into a highly attractive means toward encouraging reluctant readers. Each book presents more complex problems and greater risks. We rated this book and its series four hearts.
Bob Spear Publisher and Chief Reviewer, Heartland Reviews www.heartlandreviews.com Co-Owner, The Book Barn www.abookbarn.com
"Keeper of the Empire directly follows both Keeper of the Kingdom and Keeper of the Realm. Once again, Matt and his new friend Targon, a computer program, are out for more adventure as they battle their way through Level 3 of the Keeper of the Kingdom game. H.J. Ralles has created another wonderful level in the Keeper series. Keeper of the Empire is a fast-paced, alien-infested, adventure that will keep the reader turning pages late into the night. The writing just gets better and better with each story. I really like how the character of Matt is evolving and both of his two computer-generated friends, Targon and Varl, are entertaining to read about. Overall, Keeper of the Empire is a book that should not be overlooked by any young adult that is looking for an exciting science fiction read. And best of all is the surprise ending. It's a doozy! It knocked my socks off! I can't wait for the next book!"
Conan Tigard, ReadingReview.com
"Keeper of the Empire is a fun read, with action that grips you from the
start. Excellent for middle school and reluctant readers; enjoyable and suspensful."
Christie Cibrich, Roanoke Public Library, Roanoke, TX
With each new book in the Keeper series, Ralles carries readers through more than another level of the game that Matt and his friends are trapped in -- she chronicles another step in Matt's growth to maturity. Make no mistake that Keeper of the Empire is one of those dreary cautionary tales that have there snares set for young readers; every page of Ralles' novels plays out like a few seconds on a ticking time bomb. Young adults will love the danger and adventure, even as they learn to trust their own actions. Adults will look back for a much-needed reminder of just what they went through to survive their adolescent years.
Excitement, challenges, and lethal surprises around every corner -- Ralles knows how to turn out a first-rate story. And, how to make coming-of-age as suspenseful as nature makes it every day.
Lisa DuMond, SF Site, Meviews
Ralles, H.J. Keeper of the Empire, Dallas, TX. Top Publications, Ltd. Co. 2004. $9.95. ISBN
H.J. Ralles is at it again. Ralles has captivated anyone with a fascination for computer games, and found a way to connect computer literate children to reading. She reveals to her readers the motivation behind unusual plot twists.
When Matt completed Level 2 in Keeper of the Realm, the reader is naturally led to Keeper of the Empire. Their friend, Dorin, challenges them to beat Level 3 for him. Players of computer games will see themselves as right in the middle of the game, rather than simply watching on the monitor.
Her characters are caught in Matt's computer game. Even Matt's two old friends from Zaul, Varl, his elderly mentor and Targon, are skeptical when Matt explains their dilemna.
Having survived two levels of existence in the computer game, Matt finds himself on the third level. The Cybergons in Zaul, then the Noxerans on Karn presented dangerous challenges. The Vorgs planet was on a collision course with another star and they left their doomed planet with only six years to find a home. The invaders are the most hazardous confrontation of all. How to deal with Vorgs, large iguanna-like creatures, which belong in a zoo, but are straight out of a prehistoric tale?
Varl is rescued by Snake who is a member of the Resistance movement and travels via jetpack. Snake takes him to a cliff home which is safe for the time being from the Vorgs. Varl joins the Resistance and puts his scientific mind to work to help them rid Earth of Vorgs. Matt has lost his laptop and finds out that he is in danger of being put through the desensitization process which turns humans into zombies. In a dangerous manuever, he retrieves his laptop computer from an old barn. Now he can access the rules of Level 3 game, but our heroes get yet another poetic riddle. He, Targon and Angel have hope of joining up with the other humans who have not yet been desensitized.
Jesper of the Mount is a worthy antagonist, stamping out humans, or at least sending them to the Gilded State. But when Jesper makes a mistake and incurs the wrath of Gubala, the Great Leader, he dreads facing Gubala. Unlike the other Vorgs, Jesper maintains a grudging respect for the cunning intelligence of the Govans humans who are secretly trying to organize a revolt and reclaim their planet. When Angel and her brother, Fly, find each other, Matt becomes homesick for his own brother, Jake. He remembers how good Jake was at playing computer games.
Ralles knows how to set a dangerous scene with Angel flying the airbug and Matt donning all black clothing to play commando on a night raid. She takes her readers step-by-step to the height of suspense. Using data bases, screenballs, passcodes, search mechanisms, cosmic locator, problems of a co-existence are solved by negotiation instead of war. Matt and his friends conclude that no species is all bad.They have the opportunity to continue the computer game and move from "novice" to "expert," but Matt is too glad to be safe at home.
The Epilogue serves the reader well as "a concluding section that rounds out the design of a literary work." When Matt's mom bakes brownies, we relax at home from a strenuous adventure, but the sight of purple words across the computer screen hints that another book in the Keeper series is on its way.
JoAn Martin, Baytown Sun and Review of Texas Books