Hunted: Spirit Animals, Book 2
By Carrie R. Wheadon,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Multiplatform series about magical beasts stays exciting.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
There's discussion of a symbol resembling the yin and yang symbol (or Taiji) -- lacking the contrasting dots -- as Meilin explores how her spirit animal complements her skills. The enhanced powers that the spirit animals pass to their human counterparts will get readers thinking about animals' keener eyesight, superior jumping ability and agility, etc., and perhaps spark some conversation about which skills are natural and which, e.g. prophecy and healing, are magical.
Kids face conflicting loyalties -- to their heroic cause and to their families. They also learn the importance of trust and the power of forgiveness. The four main characters learn to work together in fighting the enemy, and teach others to do the same. Readers will get different perspectives on the nature of courage: "What is a warrior's heart? Does it always carry a sword?" Meilin wonders as she gains respect for a mentor who refuses to fight.
Positive Role Models
All four characters grow into their roles as heroes a little more here. Meilin learns to be more patient and in tune with her spirit animal Jhi; she also learns more respect and trust for others. Conor works hard to see himself more as a leader, but questions his own loyalties. Rollan's still reluctant to give himself fully to the cause, but tries hard to help and understand others better. Abeke tries hard to earn the trust of the Greencloaks and trades what she loves most to protect another.
Violence & Scariness
An ambush kills animals belonging to bad guys (Rollan cuts one snake in half and also cuts a man's leg with a sword; a wolf kills another animal); a bad snake bite needs an antidote. There's talk that Conor's family could starve if he doesn't help them. Mastiffs threaten to kill animals before their masters give themselves up. Kids are help captive and taken forcibly more than once. A final battle has a giant boar taking out most enemies, but little detailed description. Finn talks about losing all his brothers in a fight against the enemy; now he won't fight anymore. Meilin worries about her father, who's gone missing after her city is taken over by the enemy.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hunted, by Maggie Stiefvater, is the second book in a multimedia, multiauthor series from Scholastic, similar to its 39 Clues and Infinity Ring series. There's a website where young readers can choose their own spirit animal and character identity, and enter codes from the books they read to unlock prizes and whatnot. Aimed at animal-loving tween readers just digging into fantasy tales, each book since the series debut in September 2013 -- Wild Born, by Brandon Mull -- is written by a different, seasoned children's author, with new installments appearing every few months. As in Book 1, the plot of Hunted isn't terribly complicated, and the four diverse 11-year-old characters face only mild violence -- a couple of battles kill some animals, and there's a nasty snake bite -- amid talk of an evil force from the past coming back to wage war against everyone. As the four kids start to grow into their roles as heroes, they work on trusting one another, building teamwork, and strenghtening loyalty.
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
Meilin, Conor, Abeke, Rollan, and their beasts of legend are back at the Greencloak training facility. But there's little time for sparring. They need another powerful talisman from Rumfuss the boar, a great beast in the north, and they need to get to Rumfuss before Zerif and the other Conquerors do. With two Greencloaks assigned to aid them, they set off on horseback. Before long, they meet trouble and get separated on the road, forcing Conor and Rollan to enter Conor's home town of Trunswick alone. Unfortunately, Zerif got there first and gave the \"bile\" to Devin, Conor's pompously noble former employer, forcing a bond with an animal Devin can claim as the real hero of Trunswick instead of Conor's wolf, Briggan. But when Devin thinks the boys are safely locked away so he can run off to find Rumfuss, he fails to plan for Meilin, her giant panda Jhi, and their so-crazy-it-has-to-work rescue plan.
Is It Any Good?
Maggie Stiefvater was a really good pick: Nothing flags in HUNTED after author Brandon Mull started the series with Wild Born; kids go from one adventure to the next smoothly. Stiefvater even adds some popping dialogue between the diverse characters -- Meilin and Rollan's sparring is particularly fun. But it's not mindless fun, as the characters also start to develop their more heroic qualities -- Meilin shines here as she starts to understand the balance her panda can bring to her psyche. Way to get deep. The only thing missing is more exploration of the long game. There's little talk of the wider network of Conquerors: They fight. They go away again.
Of course there's a cliffhanger and of course kids will keep reading, with their own Internet-chosen spirit animal by their side. (Um, the tiger's taken. Get your own.) Lucky for kids, Garth Nix is writing Book 3. It's hard to top the spiritedness of Mogget the "cat" from his wonderful Abhorsen Trilogy, but he can try.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about this multimedia series, and the way it involves readers in various ways. Are you just reading the books, or have you been online to pick out your own spirit animal? Was it the online component that first drew you to the books, or vice versa?
Why do you think stories about magical animal companions are so popular? What other ones do you like?
Characters face tough decisions, especially Conor at the end of the book. Do you find their dilemmas compelling? Do you see similar issues in your own life?
- Author: Maggie Stiefvater
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
- Publication date: January 7, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 192
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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