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 second book in a dystopian fantasy series for middle-graders that began with The Unwanteds. It's packed with action, magic, and excitement, as well as a bit of creepy terror that will keep readers (even reluctant ones) on edge and turning pages. It also serves up deeper messages about honor, honesty, acceptance, cooperation, and the importance of creativity. Blushing over the memory of a kiss on the cheek, innocent love notes, and a little hand holding is the extent of any romance or sexuality.
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An amazing book, but be prepared for the death of two major characters (not SUPER major, but still pretty major) and a minor character (actually two but one of them we don't see the death of and we never really cared about her anyway)
What's the story?
The battle has ended between the Wanteds in the dismal but orderly world of Quill and the Unwanteds of the more magical haven called Artime. The Unwanteds have won, the reign of terror is seemingly over, and the gate separating the two worlds has been opened. But the transition for all survivors is anything but easy. People on both sides must learn to deal with new emotions and unfamiliar situations. Recovering, healing, regaining confidence, and welcoming those who tried to destroy them, the people of Artime try to live up to their principle of building a peaceful, all-accepting world. But feelings are feelings, and conquering them isn't a simple thing. And all is complicated by the fact that not all people of Quill want to live peacefully. Bent on revenge, some Quillens plot to regain power, and the war seems far from over. Also, the appearance of two strange children from some other land adds a whole new dimension to the story.
Is it any good?
This second book in the Unwanteds series is even better than the first -- and The Unwanteds was very good. Each well-written, action-packed page is filled with a unique blend of magic, fantasy, and real emotion that makes the story gripping and fun to read. Except for the evil empress Justine, the same main characters from Book 1 have returned, and they've learned a lot. They're even more well-rounded and competent as they struggle not only with bigger issues of fighting the bad guys but also with more ordinary feelings of fitting in, communicating clearly with each other, assuming leadership, and so on.
There are enough spies, counter-spies, selfless heroes, power-hungry challengers, and fantasy creatures to captivate any reader, as well as deeper messages about creativity, conformity, and the individual's place in society. All of this makes Island of Silence an outstanding read.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether they agree with Mr. Today's decision to keep the gate open between Artime and Quill. Do you think his idea about allowing people to come and go freely was reckless? Do you think putting up gates and walls can make a place safer?
What do authors do to make readers want to move from chapter to chapter or, in the case of a series, from book to book? How does this series compare to others you have read -- Harry Potter or Chronicles of Narnia, for example?
Why did Alex think Mr. Today had made a mistake in choosing him to succeed him as leader of Artime? Can you think of other stories where characters were unsure of their ability to lead? Have you ever felt that way?
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