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Unlocked: Keeper of the Lost Cities, Book 8.5
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Unlocked is, for the most part, an archive of reference materials for the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, with a brief but intense narrative section that sets up Book 9, and lot of commentary by author Shannon Messenger, who's clearly having a lot of fun with her readers (and messing with them). It will make no sense whatever to readers unfamiliar with the series, but will be a valuable navigational aid to readers who find the complexity getting out of hand over the course of eight volumes so far. True devotees will revel in the gorgeous art, fannish quizzes and coloring pages, and an inside look at bad-boy Keefe's detention records. The story has involved a lot of violence (physical, mental, and emotional), death, loss, toxic family relationships, dark magic, assorted other mayhem, and endless references to the pee, poop, and other bodily fluids of magical animals -- and it all gets revisited. As does Sophie's conflicted romantic history, her even more conflicted family history (she was genetically engineered from DNA donated by elves, raised by humans, and is now adopted by an elvin family), and her still largely undefined world-saving responsibilities. Pee and poop, usually of magical beings, are an essential ingredient in most of elvin medicine and are recurring story elements. Also pus and other disgusting bodily fluids -- there's an ongoing grossout theme throughout the series. Promotion of the previous books, the upcoming book, and related online content is a bit relentless.
Awesome book! Sokeefe is FINALLY back on track! Note: since Commonsense doesn’t have Stellarlune’s review on here, this review contains my review of Unlocked AND Stellarlune.
Okay, so first I’m just gonna state that Unlocked was DEFINITELY a Sokeefe book. Unlike Flashback, and Legacy, it (THANK THE LORD) didn’t have all the, “Oh, Fitz is mad, again! but I’m STILL being oblivious and because he’s cute I’m excusing his BORDERLINE ABUSIVE behavior towards me and my friends” kind of attitude. Phew. It was SO refreshing to FINALLY have Sophie start being like, “Okay, maybe Fitz really isn’t the one I need, he’s a great guy, but not the one for me,” and for Keefe’s sarcastic, (un?)oblivious commentary. I ship Sokeefe clearly, and am totally on Team Diana! (Dex+Biana). Also, Linhlie! (Wylie + Linh). Tam and Glimmer would also be good, and Jensi and Stina would be awesome too! (Fitz and Marella? Marelitz?) But enough of my ranting! *sighs* let’s get on with the review!
Sexy stuff: Hmm, not sure how to tackle this one. There’s nothing to worry about, but there’s a LOT of crush stuff, (which is super great by the way, besides Fitzphie), which is mostly between Sophie and Keefe, but also includes a few moments where the love triangle is SUPER obvious, and you’re like, “WHAT THE HECK SOPHIE, GET YOUR OBLIVIOUS HEAD OUT OF THE CLOUDS,” and a reference to a past kiss between Dex and Sophie. It also has some seriously adorable artwork commentary by Keefe about moments with Sophie, (the scene from Exile is the best!) and I’m thinking that there might be ANOTHER love triangle forming between Dex, Tam, and Biana.
Violence: not much to worry about. Keefe’s headaches are about the worst thing in this book, since I don’t count the storehouse scene as “violence”. Nothing like Nightfall’s “draw blood three times” scene, or Flashback’s shadowflux scene.
Drugs and alcohol: nothing
Positive messages: some awesome messages about friendships and authority, as well as true love vs. a shallow crush.
Negative messages: this might be me just being a Sokeefe shipper, but I’m really hating the jerk behavior from Fitz to anybody in his vicinity whenever he’s angry. Also, that Sophie just takes it like it’s nothing. I might not recommend this series to a younger child if Sophie does choose Fitz, because in an age where girls are insecure, bad boyfriends are an issue, and if she chooses Fitz, it *almost* could lead young girls into the mindset of, “Oh, okay, yeah it’s fine if my boyfriend yells at me ALL THE TIME,”. Just saying.
Ooooooother than that though there’s NOTHING. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. And yes, that could just be me being my *SLIGHTLY* obsessive Sokeefe shipping self. So don’t take it the wrong ways, parents. These are AWESOME books. That’s really the only thing.
And now, I must leave with one more insight.
GO BUY THIS BOOK!
After finishing this book pretty much the day it came out, I can say that it is truly worth the wait. Shannon ups the teen romance with the (FINALLY) ending love triangle, gives new insights to hardcore fans, and somehow changes the game yet again with another brilliant cliffhanger.
Violence: This certain book is very low on violence. Nothing like Nightfall or Flashback or even Lodestar.
Sexy Stuff: Up till this point, if you didn’t want to focus on the romance, you could easily ignore it, and if you loved the romance, (like me) then you could read into double meaning comments all day long. This book changes that. And I can truly say that after reading this book you will know where the love triangle is heading. Because instead of simply flirting and being oblivious, Sophie’s now aware of Keefe’s feelings, and spends pages swooning over him. When he finally returns, she’s awkward and (SPOILER) pretty much diehard in love with him. (THIS PART HAS SPOILERS) Sophie tells Keefe how much she cares about him, and he tells her what every Sokeefe fan has wanted from book 1, that he likes her too! They share two very sweet and very well written kisses, and after that it’s just flirting and Shannon telling her fans in the acknowledgments that if her fans are dying for more of the book, that to tide them over they can always go back and reread Chapter 42(AKA the kissing chapter) until book 10 is released. If that doesn’t tell you who Sophie’s gonna pick, I don’t know what to tell you.
Language: Bugger is used once, that’s it.
Note: Stellarlune IS appropriate for kids under 13, BUT the teen romance is pretty swoony, and once you’re old enough you’ll love it. But if you’re too young, the crush stuff might be too much for you. Plus, and I’m not kidding when I say this, but the PTSD the characters suffer from is on the level of the Hunger Games.
Conclusion: Stellarlune is my new favorite book. It has action, adventure, well written romance with plenty of chemistry, and great characters. So, if you love Keeper, then this book will be a keeper, if you get what I mean;)
BEST BOOK!!! I loved this book series so well written but I def recommend it for 11 and up there is a lot of romance especially with Sophie and Fitz because they just broke up its a love triangle between 2 boys and 1 girl and I would not say 9 plus for this book at all but not kissing or anything super mature just hand holding hugging a lot of touching but Sophie so is confused about her feelings for Keefe and a bit sad that she broke up with Fitz
The first 500 pages or so of UNLOCKED are a compendium of spectacular art, fan activities, archival records, character bios, and other supplementary materials that, one way or another, add depth to the previous Keeper of the Lost Cities installments. They also sum up what's happened so far -- so longtime readers will be right there, memories refreshed, with the young elvin heroes as the brief narrative portion opens. Told from the alternating perspective of series protagonist Sophie and Keefe, the elvin bad boy who's devoted to her and tends to make bad choices for noble reasons, it finds Keefe emerging from horrific magic inflicted by his villainous mom -- with nobody knowing what the lasting effects might be. Sophie and her friends, meanwhile, decide they need to change their strategy for dealing with the Neverseen.
Is It Any Good?
If you're a hardcore Keeper of the Lost Cities fan who loves to spend quality time with characters' detention records and make your own elvin treats, this installment is for you. You'll be in heaven with Unlocked, a very mixed bag of information, activities, "archival records" on the various characters, what they've been up to, and, sometimes, why, for the previous eight volumes. Considering the rate at which the series comes up with characters, animals, magical beings, and cosmological features, it's a rare reader who doesn't, at some point, have a "Wait, what?" moment, or need a refresher on the difference between a gulon and a gorgodon. It's also good prep for the "novella" portion at book's end -- which, as readers have come to expect, involves inner turmoil, new powers and conflicts, a cliffhanger ending, and an author who chortles about it in the afterword while urging readers to buy the next book. The stellar artwork, especially Laura Hollingsworth's gorgeous, full- color story scenes and character portraits, adds a welcome dimension.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about books like Unlocked, which are basically supplements to an existing series. Do you think things like art, activities and background information help you enjoy the series more, or do you just want them to get on with the story?
As Sophie's discovered, a lot of things in the elf world are wonderful, and others not so much, magic or no magic. What parts of life in the Lost Cities would you like in your own life -- and which would you like to keep far away?
The elvin world respects many abilities -- while hating and fearing others. Do you see this happening in our world too?