A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Island of Legends is the fourth book in Lisa McMann's highly acclaimed The Unwanteds series and should be read in sequence. As with the three previous ones, this story is a heart-pounding adventure, full of imaginative challenges and solutions, and peopled with complex characters that grapple with important moral dilemmas. Conflict, magic, fantasy, romance, imagination, loyalty, self-doubt, danger, and evil are effectively balanced, and characters grow and change as they take on leadership roles and friendships deepen. Conflict between warring worlds (a basic good-vs.-evil story line) is part of each book, but violence is never gratuitous. Boulders smash heads, knives are drawn, people are injured during war, and a monster's eye socket is gouged, but no one dies, and the violence is part of unavoidable conflict. There's an innocent kiss or two, hand-holding, and a lot of heart-pounding. Happily for fans, the series continues.
What's the story?
Just getting his feet under him as Mage of Artime, Alex (and his friends) face challenges on all sides. Forces from Warbler Island attack, exotic sea monsters nearly doom their attempt to rescue Sky and Crow's mother, and they're swept over the edge of the world by forces they've never encountered before. All the while Alex questions his abilities, feels distracted by his blossoming romance with Sky, and struggles with how to balance the demands of leadership and his personal feelings. At the same time, his scheming brother Aaron is regaining power in Quill and rebuilding that evil world, as well as discovering that he may have some untapped power that will make him even more dangerous. How will Alex and his crew ever find their way back to Artime, and what will they find there when they return?
Is it any good?
Author Lisa McMann has a definite knack for writing for this age group. Her use of language is excellent, and her story is compelling. Both believable and unbelievable, the action is fast-paced, the dilemmas are imaginative, and the solutions border on fantastic. The characters -- even the flying statues -- are complicated enough to seem real; the good guys have weaknesses, the bad guys a glimmer of strength. Lessons about the importance of loyalty, compassion, creativity, and self-acceptance weave subtly throughout.
This series is among the best recent middle-grade fantasy series, and Book 4 is as strong as the first three. A suspenseful ending will leave most readers clamoring for Book 5.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes this series so exciting. For example, each of The Unwanteds books leaves off just as a new adventure is looming on the horizon. How does that compare with other series you've read? How does author Lisa McMann make sure you remember what's happened in the past?
Alex and Aaron definitely have different ideas of what it means to be a leader. Which one would you rather follow? Why does Alex seem so unsure of himself? Why does he seem so distracted at times, and how does that affect his leadership? Do you think that makes him stronger or weaker as a leader?
In this book, magic is used to bring statues to life. What do you think that adds to the story?
- Author: Lisa McMann
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Ocean Creatures
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Aladdin
- Publication date: September 2, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 496
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
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