I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
There are so many wonderful new series out for young readers right now and this one has a lot of potential. In the city of Jewel, the citizens prize the safety of their children above anything else. All children must wear guard-chains from birth until their age of separation as teenagers. These chains connect children to adults at all times in order to keep them safe. When the children are not in the care of their parents, they are connected to one of the city's Blessed Guardians. Goldie cannot wait to be free of her guard chain but, on her day of Separation, tragedy strikes and the Separation is cancelled. Goldie manages to run away and find refuge in the mysterious Museum of Thieves. The Museum holds not only the history of the city but also helps to maintain a delicate balance in the state of the world. When an evil plot threatens that delicate balance, Goldie must join with the keepers of the museum in order to protect everyone she loves.
I loved the idea of the guard chains as a metaphor for how young children often feel. As a society, we are becoming more and more protective of our children. The days of children roaming around their neighorhoods until dinner are over. There is too much fear about what has happened. Tanner hints at this change in society through her depiction of Jewel. The guard chains are a tangible reminder of the adult fear that can constrict and limit children. When Goldie confronts a life-threatening situation within the Museum, she simply stands still and waits for someone to rescue her. As a result of a lifetime of being over-protected, she has not developed any self-preservation skills. As she spends more time at the museum, she slowly develops those skills. I love how this book empowers children and has a strong female protagonist. My one problem with it was that the bad guys seemed to obvious and stereotypical. The Museum itself is fascinating and original and I look forward to seeing how the series develops.
PARENTAL ADVISORY: While there are some scary parts in this book, there is nothing beyond what one would find in a Harry Potter novel. The bad guys are really rotten and there are physical threats to both adults and children. Some younger children may also be disturbed by the fact that the government can throw one's parents into a deep, dark dungeon if they don't comply. Everyone makes it through the book more and less unharmed, however.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. While some of the book was a little predictable, the museum itself is fascinating and I enjoyed the variety of characters. There are lots of original ideas here and I look forward to seeing how they are developed throughout the series.