Exile: Keeper of the Lost Cities, Book 2

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Exile: Keeper of the Lost Cities, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Exciting sequel keeps momentum of telepathic elf-girl tale.

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Kids say

age 9+
Based on 22 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Exile is more adventure than schoolroom lesson, but there are references to works of literature, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy. One of the teachers at the academy is named Bronte. Sophie has been genetically engineered to have unusual powers, so DNA comes up often in conversation. New words like alicorn (from the Latin for wings and horn) may enrich kids' sense of language. 

Positive Messages

Strong messages about courage, family, friendship, and loyalty; sticking by your loved ones even when they're not being nice to you; collaborating and using your various talents to good effect; and how to be supportive when people are grief-stricken. Also, being able to admit it when you're wrong.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Besides a growing list of superpowers, Sophie shows courage, selflessness, love for her friends and family, and the ability to persevere when things are hopeless. Bad-boy classmate Keefe turns out to be a true friend to both Sophie and Sylveny; many of the kids, including those who don't normally get along, put aside their differences and support one another in times of crisis and grief. Various adults strive to save their world and the beings in it.


Kidnappers from the first volume are still after Sophie, and now they seem to be after Sylveny as well, causing more scary scenes, battles, and wounds. Also scary: a visit to the elf world's prison/insane asylum. Death is a traumatic rarity in the elf world, and the deaths of several characters, some told in flashback, cause much suffering. There's relatively little physical violence, but invasive telepathic probes shatter the minds of some characters. Needle-phobic kids may be especially alarmed by a scene with Sophie and the biggest hypodermic syringe ever.



Several of her male friends are starting to take an interest in Sophie and get jealous of one another in the process. In times of dire peril, teleportation, or the like, Sophie holds hands with her male companions.


Recurring humor around Sylveny's glittering poop. One of the characters calls the alicorn "Glitter Butt." Humorous references to butts, farts, wedgies, and the like.


Occasional references to products from the human world (for example, Sophie's iPod), which she still loves. One family's last name is Diznee. At one point Sophie says she feels like an Oompa Loompa.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Sophie and her friends are constantly dosed with healing potions by elf doctors.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Exile: Keeper of the Lost Cities, Book 2 continues Shannon Messenger's exciting series about 12-year-old telepathic elf Sophie Foster. Its strong, appealing girl protagonist faces middle-school social perils, family struggles, and life-threatening dangers in the elf world. As in the first book, Keeper of the Lost Cities, values are positive and upbeat, but characters deal with complex ethical decisions and personal loss. The writing is easily accessible to younger and/or reluctant readers, sweeping them along as the tale unfolds. There are some scary but age-appropriate scenes, including attempted kidnappings, terrifying prisons, and mental torture/collapse as invasive telepathic probes shatter the minds of some characters. One of the magical beings produces glittering, foul-smelling poop, which becomes a recurring joke; there's also brief humor about butts, farts, wedgies, and the like.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byWolf_Girl December 26, 2014


I loved this book. It was unpredictable in the beginning, but only to older readers does it become predictable. I love this series and hope their are a lot more... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byPuppie September 16, 2017
IT WAS REALLY GOOD! Much better than the first one

What's the story?

Twelve-year-old Sophie Foster, transported to the elf world in Keeper of the Lost Cities, in which she narrowly escaped death and learned startling secrets about herself, is just hoping for some peace, quiet, and time to hang out with her new friends. But fate -- or maybe the mysterious Black Swan organization, which created Sophie and her unusual powers by engineering her DNA -- has other plans. First there's the discovery of an alicorn, a magical winged horse with a horn on her forehead, who soon is chatting telepathically with Sophie. Struggling to understand the elf world's ways, she worries about her adoptive parents, who still mourn the death of their beloved daughter; then there's the really awful costume she has to wear for the opening ceremonies at school. When a telepathic mission gone wrong shatters the mind of her beloved mentor, Sophie and her friends are determined to bring him back, whatever the cost.

Is it any good?

Exciting, fast-paced, and written at a level that's accessible to newer or reluctant readers, KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES: EXILE keeps up the momentum and the spirit of the series' opening volume. Sophie and her friends experience laughs, tears, misunderstandings, suspense, and moral dilemmas as they face many terrors -- and leave more than enough unresolved issues for the next volume, due out fall 2014.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why stories about genetically engineered characters are so popular. How would you feel if you knew you'd been specifically designed by someone? Would it make a difference if you knew why?

  • Like Harry Potter, Sophie was hidden in the human world to keep her safe. How does her relationship with her human family compare with Harry's relationship with his?

  • How do the adult characters show both weakness and strength? What happens when they make mistakes? Do you find them believable?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and strong girl characters

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