Parents' Guide to


By Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Absorbing, violent fantasy brings dragons into the 1950s.

Book Patrick Ness Fantasy 2020
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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 14+

Would recommend!

Great book! Super interesting plot, exploration of racism, sexism, and homophobia, AND a fun villain. There are some sexy scenes, but they aren't really explicit and they're pretty short. There is definitely violence but its never gory or gratuitous.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
age 18+

Sexual encounter in chapter 8 is not for kids

In chapter seven of the book (not sure of the page #) one character asks the other character of he has a woody. Most of the pornography begins in chapter 8. P. 103 - Nelson traces tattoos to Malcom’s waistline and asks why the tattoos end there - then his hand moves down past the tattoos to "feel the skin and hair." P. 104 - Nelson starts undressing Malcolm P. 105 - Nelson handles Malcom’s inner thigh P. 105-106 - Nelson stares at Malcom’s hips and asks if he can look at him for a second P. 107 - Nelson references rough and violent sex P. 108- Malcom has had two nights of sex with Nelson. Nelson asks Malcom to “turn over” and he moves his fingers down to Malcom’s buttocks. P. 108 - Malcom says his “heart was lost” after knowing Nelson 2 DAYS and having sex twice in that time. This book is pornographic. The characters are homosexual. I would feel the same way if this had been about two heterosexual teenagers. The mood, language, imagery, and timeline of this sexual encounter is very disturbing. This is R rated movie material.

This title has:

Too much sex

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2):
Kids say (3):

This is an absorbing fantasy with an unusual 1950s U.S. setting that combines suspenseful detective fiction, coming-of-age, science fiction, and of course, dragons. There's magic, but not the kind you'd expect to go along with castles, knights, wizards, and round tables. Veteran author Patrick Ness skillfully weaves together themes as wide ranging as the Cold War, cult worship, alternative universes, the power of prophecy, and where the real magic in the world lies.

Things slow down a bit when the author explains, and some readers might feel he explains too much, about how the magic, the prophecy, and alternative universes work. But, overall, the plot moves along well. One of Ness' strengths is his fully developed characters. The good guys are easy to relate to and root for, and the bad guys have real dimension so you "get" them without liking them or what they do.

Book Details

  • Author: Patrick Ness
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Topics: Magic and Fantasy, History
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • Publication date: June 2, 2020
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
  • Number of pages: 384
  • Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
  • Last updated: July 11, 2020

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