Creature Keepers and the Hijacked Hydro-Ride by Peter Nelson Book Review

Creature Keepers and the Hijacked Hydro-Ride by Peter Nelson
Illustrations by Rohitash Rao
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Release Date: September 16, 2014

Jordan Grimsley hates the idea of spending his entire spring break fixing up his grandfather's old house with his sister and parents. He doesn't have to worry though because the swamp behind his grandfather's house holds secrets that he couldn't even dream of. Soon, he is welcomed by a local boy Eldon Pecone and introduced to a secret society called Creature Keepers. This group has the important job of protecting and hiding all manner of mythical beasts, from the Loch Ness Monster to the mythic South Florida Skunk Ape. It's not an easy job and it only gets harder when Nessie goes missing and the reasons are far more nefarious than anyone wants to deal with.

This story started out strong. I instantly liked Jordan, his family, the old people in his neighborhood, Eldon, and the Skunk Ape. Jordan's worrying about no wi-fi was completely relatable and I liked that although he didn't want to help fix up the old house, he did help when asked to. Eldon is a bit more of a goody-goody, but once you get to know him it is clear that he is the glue that holds this whole thing together.

Creature Keepers was a light adventure story, perfect for the Wimpy Kid lovers, and is sure to be a series. The pacing felt a bit off sometimes and I still am not quite sure if I follow the internal logic of why the cryptids need people to take care of them or why someone wants to steal them, but I don't think it is meant to be read into too deeply. I have to say, the illustrations really didn't do it for me. Many of the characters kind of looked like potatoes and Nessie barely resembled the beautiful creature she is on the cover. I hate being critical of any art, especially since I can barely draw stick figures, but if the illustrations of a story fail to add or capture the imagination, then I think that is a problem. There isn't much substance to the story, but it is a fun romp through the swamp with some likable characters.