A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
An appendix offers would-be artists some tips for drawing the characters. Sophie spends much of the story discovering that everything she knows is wrong, at many levels. As a human child prodigy, she displays genius-level intelligence and rattles off lots of scientific detail. As an elf, she laments that she has to unlearn most of what she's learned as a human, but she works hard.
Courage, friendship, honesty, kindness, and trying to do the right thing -- even when it's hard to know what that is.
Positive Role Models
Faced with constant surprises and nonstop challenges, Sophie works hard and tries to do the right thing, even when everything is overwhelming and scary. Many elf characters who play a big role in the series appear here, including rich boy Fitz, bad boy Keefe, and tech boy Dex. A lot of elf adults seem to be kind -- but also to know a lot more about Sophie than she does and to have a lot of power over her life. Sophie's human parents are kind and loving, even though they struggle to understand her. She has typical sibling issues with her younger sister. Cliques are an issue at the elf academy as well as at Sophie's old school in the human world.
Like the original series, the Keeper of the Lost Cities graphic novel features elf characters of many different skin tones, which is not an issue or source of discrimination in their culture. Both male and female characters appear in powerful roles -- positive and negative. What is a huge issue/source of discrimination (and could draw parallels with real-world forms of discrimination) is DNA, and how those considered a genetic "bad match" face a lifetime of social consequences for themselves and their children if they insist on marrying. Also a huge issue: waiting for your particular talent (like telepathy) to manifest, and fearing that it never will -- also a social disaster.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Sophie puts her human family -- and the cat -- to sleep with a potion so she can leave them forever for the elf world and they will have no memory of her. In the human world, Sophie is harassed and bullied, has no friends, and never fits in. A mysterious stranger tries to snatch her and is foiled by her kindly neighbor. The elf world seems like paradise in many ways, but there are hints of darker forces in play -- past deaths, torture and imprisonment cast long shadows, strange fires are consuming forests around Sophie's home, and it's clear that a lot of elf adults know more about her, what she is, and why she exists, than she does, and she doesn't have much control over any of it. Telepathy knocks Sophie and Fitz across a room in a practice session.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sophie, 12, goes from being a social outcast in a human high school to having three slightly older boys and assorted male classmates really interested in her, which gets a little overwhelming. A girl her age who has a cute older brother complains she has a lot of fake friends who used her to get next to him.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sophie gets called "freak" and the like by her human classmates. In the elf world, "bad match" (your parents didn't have Council approval to marry) is an insult that follows Dex in particular.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Keeper of the Lost Cities is a bestselling book franchise and a huge, lucrative, glittery fandom and way of life. The graphic novel is not just a fun addition to current fans, it's a gateway to an entirely new audience, with fore- and afterwords by author Shannon Messenger promoting past works and books to come (this one, it's noted, is only half the story of the original series debut, a doorstop-sized volume).
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Keeper of the Lost Cities The Graphic Novel is a new series bringing Shannon Messenger's bestselling elf-girl fantasy to old and new audiences with visual storytelling. It's also a new gateway into a glittery, lucrative, and ever-expanding fan world of books, activities, and merch, so be aware. This volume of the graphic novel, adapted by Celina Frenn and illustrated by Gabriella Chianello, covers events in the first half of the original Book 1, while bringing in characters and issues that emerge later in the series. Violence includes an attempted kidnapping, a past tragic death, and vague talk of torture and imprisonment of characters by authority of the elven Council. Some scenes, like Sophie putting her human family and the cat to sleep so they will forget she exists before she leaves them forever, may disturb some readers and seem implausible to others. A few slightly older boys express romantic interest in 12-year-old Sophie. Some of the differences between elf and human societies may provoke some interesting discussions.
Is It Any Good?
Shannon Messenger's convoluted, imaginative tale of DNA, superpowers, cosmic conflict, magical academies -- and a lot of unanswered questions -- gets a lively reboot in a new graphic novel series. Over the last decade, the glittery elf-girl saga Keeper of the Lost Cities has evolved from fascinating premise to colossal franchise and passionate fandom. Gabriella Chianello's colorful illustrations do a lot of the heavy lifting in defining the story's worlds and those who live there, and adapter Celina Frenn weaves a lot of back story and plot threads into a narrative that will appeal to first-time Lost Cities readers -- and offer a new perspective to returning fans.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Fantasy Books for Kids
Magical Reads for Kids Who Love Harry Potter
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate