Island of Fire: The Unwanteds, Book 3

Common Sense Media says

Magic, mystery, mayhem, and a leadership message for tweens.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

As with the other books in this series, Island of Fire presents great opportunities to discuss effective problem-solving strategies. Characters work together to decipher mysterious clues and discover creative solutions in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Even the youngest members come up with important observations that help get the team back on track in essential moments. 

Positive messages

Accept leadership when it's thrust upon you, never shirk responsibility, do your best, look to your friends for help, never give up working toward solutions to help your community. Girls, as well as boys can be heroes, and even the youngest, smallest members of the group have important contributions to make. 

Positive role models

Alex is a lot like Harry Potter: Even though he bumbles about at times, he has a special quality, and has been selected as a leader among his peers. Alex is humble in the face of the power that has been thrust upon him. He's honest, kind-hearted, brave, and just basically a good, creative person who emerges as a strong leader in spite of his self-doubts. His friends, both boys and girls, are also good and kind people and, besides being loyal to one another, they are brave and work hard for the good of the community.  

Violence

Much of the violence is threatened rather than described, none of it's graphic or gratuitous, and all of it's done by the evil people. A couple of kids are punched and kicked, a couple are trapped on Warbler Island, where they endure the "excruciating" 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. Prisoners are threatened with death, though none actually are killed. When Alex and his friends fight the Quillean soldiers, they use magical "components" (weapons) that put them out of action temporarily but do not kill.  

Sex

Hand-holding, the brush of a cheek, an innocent kiss or two indicate an awakening interest between a few of the characters. Comment is made on the warm and funny way it makes them feel. In the previous book, Island of Silence, Lani and Alex were developing a relationship. In Island of Fire, he dreams of how nice it felt when she touched his arm. Now though, when Sky takes his hand, he "almost forgets to breathe." Alex is beginning to have feelings for Sky, while Lani and Sam, both captured, begin to rely on each other, and are becoming a couple. How that's going to work out is part of the mystery, and will most likely be part of the next book.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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. 

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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?

QUALITY
 

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. 

Families can talk 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? 

Book details

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
Number of pages:464
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Read aloud:8 - 12
Read alone:9 - 12
Available on:Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook

This review of Island of Fire: The Unwanteds, Book 3 was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
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  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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