A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Most of the story takes place in Puerto Rico (post-Hurricane Maria) and Mexico, with much detail about the surroundings. As the kids use their superpowers for hurricane relief, readers learn quite a lot about the challenges of daily life on the island these days. While the basic premise (human-animal genetic hybrids with enhanced powers) is fantasy, the Going Wild series is packed with information about animal species, including many critters you probably haven't heard of. Along the way, lots about DNA and scientific research.
Strong messages of teamwork, friendship, loyalty, kindness, using your powers and knowledge for good -- and also recognizing that people who've done the wrong thing in the past can learn from the experience, change, and do better. Also, working your way through misunderstandings, and respecting differences and strengths.
Positive Role Models
Charlie and her friends Maria and Mac are determined, courageous -- and resilient in dealing with the challenges of using their superpowers and saving the world. Their onetime friend Kelly, who's dealing with her parents' messy divorce, went over to the other side, and is starting to think she's done the wrong thing, struggles to do the right one now. Among the adults, former chimera soldier Zed, now rejoining her scientist colleagues, works to regain their trust as they struggle to stop the villain from changing humanity forever.
Violence & Scariness
There's a lot of hand-to-hand (or fang to claw, poison spike to soft tissue, etc.) combat, much of it involving superpowers, and there's a fair amount of blood and gore in the process. Also electrical zapping, etc. Many people are badly injured as a result. One blows up entirely. A tween character spends much of the book worrying that she's killed someone while fleeing the authorities. Another character is really happy to get superpowers from shark DNA, but not so happy when she can't breathe air anymore and must live underwater.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Not an issue here -- to the point that in a scene in which all three 12-year-olds (one boy, two girls) are in the same bedroom reading and planning their next move, there's not only a detailed description of their relatively distant physical locations, there's an illustration to remove all doubt.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Clash of Beasts is the third and final installment in Lisa McMann's Going Wild series, which involves a group of 12-year-olds with animal superpowers and their adult allies in a quest to stop a villain bent on destroying humanity as we know it. Along the way there's a lot of violent combat, mostly involving humans with animal powers and/or enhancements (the platypus' poison spikes get a lot of action). Strong messages about using your powers for good, making difficult choices, and showing kindness and empathy. Lots about science, DNA, genetics, and unexpected consequences in the lab. Along the way, one or two characters who have taken a wrong turn in life now take a different path, and their struggles are part of the story (one of them is dealing with her parents' messy divorce). The kids put their powers to work helping clear up hurricane damage in Puerto Rico and visit assorted tourist spots in Mexico.
Is It Any Good?
Lisa McMann brings her superpowered-tweens trilogy to an exciting conclusion, with disaster relief in Puerto Rico and lots of great new powers from obscure animals. Told in two alternating threads (Charlie and her friends' story is on white pages, Kelly's on black pages with white type), the page-turning plot of Clash of Beasts reaches a perilous, thrilling climax on an island in Mexico, as the villainous Dr. Gray and his hybrid minions seek to transform the human race into an "improved" version.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.