A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Not as much chemistry in Book 2, though there are still references to the way Sky's hunter friends make phosphorus (ew). And there's more discussion of the best way to make a trap -- physical and mental traps both.
There's lots of talk about vengeance and revenge, especially among adults, making them look petty, greedy, and full of themselves. But Sky and his friends will do anything for one another and for their town, so messages of loyalty and teamwork are strong here.
Positive Role Models
Sky makes a decision when fighting the other hunters to just incapacitate them, not kill them. He decides to "treat them the same way he treated monsters, even if Morton and his hunters didn't deserve it." He tries hard to protect his friends, sometimes going it alone to try to spare them. His friends remain loyal and their brilliant inventions made out of trash often save them.
Violence & Scariness
Sky is almost constantly being chased by someone -- hundreds of hunters or deadly monsters. He fights back with traps, swords, and homemade weapons, and the help of other monsters. Nightmarish monsters sting and almost kill, fight with metal fireballs, attack with giant branches, and ensnare with mind control, or lurk deep in the earth waiting. In one chase scene through a graveyard, some of it overtaken by swamp, there's lots of creepy corpse imagery; Sky wades through them and says they look "pickled." Plus one scene of a character buried alive and screaming. A little gory imagery besides of eyes gouged out and an arrow removed from a chest. Sad talk of parents lost and thought dead and near-deaths of friends and parents.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Talk of Sky's sister Hannah kissing her boyfriend and a grandfather in a nursing home just to meet women.
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"Bollocks"; and "trash" is clearly used once in place of "ass."
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Products & Purchases
Cheez Whiz canisters are still used as hunter fighting gear. Plus quick mentions of Speedo, Doritos, and a few other products.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Legend Thief, like Return to Exile, the first book in The Hunter Chronicles, is marketed by the publishers to kids ages 8-12. But 10 and up may be a better fit, thanks to the complexity of the series (so many characters to keep track of, for starters), some serious monster scares and action, and the addition of graveyard and corpse imagery -- worst of all, a character gets buried alive, screaming. To get an idea of the monster scare factor, check out the glossary of beasts in the back. If kids read it and don't get nightmares, they're probably ready for the series. (Also, the humorous tone lightens up the scares a bit.) A big plus: Sky and his teen monster hunter friends are admirable and heroic characters driven by loyalty and a desire to save their town.
Is It Any Good?
THE LEGEND THIEF starts off with quite a bang. Sky bests hundreds of hunters and it's clear that a year in Exile fighting monsters, setting traps, and hanging out with his ubersmart weapon-making friends has made a real hunter out of him. It's a great, fast-paced opening, and the pace never lets up. That's good and bad. It will keep kids engaged, sure, but sometimes the storytelling suffers. Patten has many characters in play (and many aren't who they seem), so it can be really hard to take it all in at that pace. And it also allows him no chance for subtlety. For example, Sky's birthday present of a shield that repels fire is thrown at him right before he heads into a bowling alley filled with fiery monsters. Convenient.
Still, Legend Thief is a stronger book than Book 1, Return to Exile, and there's plenty here that will keep the series engaging for fantasy fans, especially as Sky and Errand's complex relationship develops.
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.