A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Island of Silence is the third book in the Unwanteds series, following Island of Silence, and will only make sense if kids have read the first two books. However, middle grade readers who have been waiting for it will not be disappointed. Like the earlier books, this one is packed with adventure, challenges, unexpected twists and turns, and a plethora of strong, heroic characters, both male and female. Creativity, community, and courage are valued; pettiness and rigid control in the face of fear aren't. The gently developing complexity in relationships between a couple of the main characters seems honest and real. A few frightening images, like dark caves and the orange-eyed creatures, add a sprinking of terror. And there's some violence: A couple of kids are punched and kicked, a couple endure the implantation of a necklace of thorns and are temporarily blinded, other people are enslaved, tied up in closets, and/or sent off to the "Ancient's Sector," to their deaths, and Alex and his friends fight the Quillean soldiers with magic.
What's the story?
ISLAND OF FIRE begins right at the edge of the cliff where Book 2, Island of Silence, left off. Artime has lost all its magic, and the Unwanteds find themselves in a very desolate, bleak situation with little hope of survival ... that is, unless Alex can figure out how to restore the world they once knew. All he has to help him is a mysterious clue on a scrap of paper, one of Mr. Today's cloaks, and the support of his few remaining friends. On top of that, his friends Lani and Samheed have disappeared (captured on Warbler Island), Megan has reappeared but wearing a necklace of thorns that has taken her voice, all the magical creatures have turned to stone, and Simber lies at the bottom of the sea. Also, Quill is still a threat, and, its leader, Alex's evil twin brother, Aaron, has gained even more power. Finally, after a frustrating struggle, and due to some pretty amazing teamwork, Alex does discover the key to decoding the message, but only to face one new challenge after another as he attempts to grow into the role of mage that he has reluctantly accepted. And the adventure's not over yet.
Is it any good?
Readers may find Island of Fire a bit different from the previous books in the series: a little less magical, with more emphasis on the frustrating obstacles that follow one after another. But, what may be lost in magical fantasy is gained in breathless adventure. Kids will love following Alex, Sky, Sean, Lani, Sam, and the other Unwanteds as they form a strong team, unafraid of tackling each challenge and working together with the magical creatures of Artime to fight the evil forces, rescue their friends, and rebuild their community. And they will appreciate the message, common to each book in this series, that creative, democratic community is a healthier place than one that exerts a tight control over its people and rules through fear and enforced silence.
Anyone who was hoping that this book would be the final solution to Artime's problems may be disappointed that it ends with another cliff-hanging episode. Other fans will be celebrating, knowing they'll soon be reaching for Book 4.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the differences between Artime, which is open and welcoming, and places like Quill or Warbler Island, which are closed, scary places with lots of rules. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each society?
How do think Island of Fire compares with the other two books in the Unwanteds series?
Characters in the book use various ways of communicating: hand signals, codes, private languages. How does having open communication help create a strong community?
- Author: Lisa McMann
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Aladdin
- Publication date: September 3, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 464
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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