A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
During Sophie and her pals' visit to Florence, readers will pick up a bit about the city's history, culture, and landmarks.
Strong messages about trust, friendship, teamwork, self-sacrifice, and trying to do the right thing -- even when it's hard to know what that is. The story involves a number of moral quandaries, including fateful decisions in the past that have dire consequences in the present.
Positive Role Models
Although she's pretty constantly grappling with forces beyond her control -- mean girls at school, evil villains with overwhelming superpowers, having to choose sides and make decisions with not nearly enough information -- 13-year-old Sophie works hard to be a good friend as well as a good world-saver and is quick to agonize over her responsibility, especially when something goes wrong. She and her friends squabble sometimes, but they're profoundly loyal and ready to take risks for one another, and they work together with much creative teamwork. Though a bit one-dimensional, many of the adult characters are there to protect the kids and their world, often at great cost to themselves.
Violence & Scariness
As in the previous installments, Sophie and her friends -- kids, adults, and magical creatures -- face near-constant danger of kidnapping, beating, imprisonment, and treachery, as well as death by combat, fire, flood, magical forces and more. Also the physical toll taken by constant teleporting, telepathy, telekinesis, and so on, all of which have the kids near death many times, although they're always saved by large amounts of healing potions. Some adult characters have suffered permanent physical or mental damage in past encounters; some of the current villains have unleashed a plague that kills all plants and all gnomes. While some kids have loving parents, others are abused, abandoned, and betrayed by family members. Some characters, including beloved ones, die.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Among her many crises, Sophie grapples with her attraction to Fitz (with whom she shares a telepathic bond and assorted protocols about entering each other's mind) and bad-boy Keefe, with whom she often holds hands, mostly for mutual reassurance. She also learns that Silveny the alicorn is pregnant but is grossed out by the details:
"Wait, that wasn't playing ...
"'Gah!" Sophie said, shoving the last images out of her mind. TMI, Silveny. Too. Much. Information.
"She knew it was supposed to be a natural, beautiful thing. But ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww."
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Numerous references to poop (especially medicines that look or taste like it), as well as butts, especially Silveny's nickname of Glitter Butt.
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Products & Purchases
Occasional mention of human-world pop culture, such as K-pop, and products, such as Sophie's now-ancient iPod. In the acknowledgements, author Messenger encourages fans to buy Book 5, which she says she's writing as fast as she can.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
For the most part it's medicinal, but magical brews and healing potions flow freely to fix both mental and physical issues.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Neverseen, similar to previous books in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, serves up many pages of author Shannon Messenger's successful mix of magic, world saving, life-threatening situations, moral quandaries, tragic loss, and middle school worries over budding romance, telepathic awkwardness, and fashion faux pas. Positive messages abound as 13-year-old Sophie and her elf pals brave monsters, floods, fires, mortal combat, and foul-tasting potions in their quest to save their world and loved ones from evil forces and their own bad decisions. Some characters die, a plague is being used to wipe out entire species, and several kids have been ill-treated by abusive or unsympathetic parents; some characters appear to go over to the dark side, but there are strong hints that the reality is a bit more complex.
Is It Any Good?
This exciting installment brings 688 fast-turning pages of elf magic, glittery winged horses, deadly plagues, deceit, treachery, and a 13-year-old girl genetically engineered to save her world. Fans of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series will be swept away as conflicted, superpowered Sophie tries to learn the truth about herself and live up to her responsibilities, all while trying to be a good friend and do no harm.
Author Messenger has developed a highly relatable heroine in young Sophie. Here she also gives free rein to her exuberant sense of world-building and dramatic (possibly false) revelations, with new superpowers and cosmic forces conjured up as needed. It's a galaxy wide and a millimeter deep, and the balance of heavy issues (abusive parents, genocide, world destruction) with magical beings, middle school misunderstandings, and 13-year-old banter is sometimes uneasy, but fans will rush to the cliff's edge that awaits them at the end of this hefty volume.
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.