A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will learn about stories dealing with uprisings and revolutions.
Underscores the value of teamwork, trust, and saving the innocent from tyranny.
Positive Role Models
Mare loses a lot of her likability in this installment but is still courageous in battle, as are the Scarlet Guard members such as Farley and Kilorn who fight without supernatural abilities. Cal is a complicated character who truly looks out for Mare and the newbloods. Cal and Kilorn are mature enough to form an alliance even though they are both obviously interested in the same person.
Violence & Scariness
Most of the characters have powers that help them in battle and cause death, injury, or destruction. People are killed from explosions, gunshots, and electrocution and even telepathically. The body count is high, but only a couple of characters central to the story die.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Longing looks, embraces, and a few kisses. Reference to sleeping in someone's arms.
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Insults include "bitch," "freak," "weakling," "coward," "liar," "nothing."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Glass Sword is the sequel to Victoria Aveyard's best-selling dystopian fantasy Red Queen. As with most middle books in a series, it features an extraordinary protagonist and her allies on the run from an evil antagonist, considerable violence (some of the characters are like X-Men mutants with special abilities), and a dash of romance. Although there's a love story between a loyal best friend and a broody alpha male, it's tame compared with the more overt love stories in comparable titles, such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Selection, and The Grisha Trilogy. There's less political intrigue in this installment, and the plot isn't as action-packed until the last quarter. The main character's unlikable sense of superiority makes this sequel disappointing but necessary for those following the series.
Is It Any Good?
First-person stories rely on the protagonist evolving, just as sequels must balance action and plot, and on both counts this installment fails to live up to its predecessor. Mare, now fully aware of her powers, is extremely unlikable in this installment. She's egotistical, angry, and cruel, calling her best friend "nothing" and constantly ruminating about her superiority as the "lightning girl." She immaturely swings from suspicious to hateful to disappointed in everyone and lives by the oft-repeated motto, "Anyone can betray anyone."
While Mare's character development stalls with her constant self-aggrandizing mixed with bouts of insecurity and selfishness, the plot itself is quite thin for the 400-plus pages. It's basically a road-trip story of Mare, Scarlet Guard Captain Farley, and the rest of the crew going from place to place (they all have names, but there's no map to help readers figure out the layout of the kingdom) finding the newbloods with extraordinary abilities. The abilities read like one convenient way to get the band of misfits out of trouble, and except for a couple of standout characters, it's hard to keep track of all the newbloods. The romance continues to move at a glacial pace, and Cal emerges as one of the few characters to elicit empathy from readers. For a Big Bad villain, Mare's presence is barely felt, but at least the last 100 pages ramp up the action, proving the author's strength is closing a story with fireworks. Otherwise, readers will feel betrayed by this rushed and uninspired second book.
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.