A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Fantasy meant to entertain.
Bad things happen, and then they end. But they continue to wreak havoc on people for a long time afterward. Strong bonds of friendship and love, plus a change of scenery, can help you on the way to recovery.
Positive Role Models
College-age teens are loyal, supportive of one another. Their lives are changing drastically, and they're having a hard time coping and figuring out what their lives are about now, what they'll be like in future. They make rash decisions, break rules, land in big trouble. Simon and Baz can't bring themselves to talk openly and honestly with each other out of fear that the other doesn't love them anymore. Early on they briefly mention being afraid to show affection for each other, fearing what others might think or do. New character Shepherd is voice of reason/rescuer, and a positive African American role model.
Violence & Scariness
Mostly fantasy violence between magical people and fantasy creatures. Some fights with punching, stabbing, setting on fire, magical beheadings, shotguns, machine guns. Blood and injuries are mentioned but not described in detail. One character is a vampire who only feeds on animals, but breaking the necks and drinking the blood of rats, a rabbit, a goat, and a cow are mentioned. Another vampire bites and feeds from a human. Characters are tied up, gagged, kicked.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A same-sex couple shares a few kisses, with only emotions described. Some romantic feelings and physical attraction mentioned or described briefly, no body parts mentioned. People seen making out at a party.
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Rare uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch."
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Products & Purchases
A few miscellaneous brands, like food and cars, mentioned to establish location or character.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Early on a character is always having cider, presumably hard cider. A 20-year-old and older adults drink at a glamorous party. A character remembers getting drunk on dandelion wine served by a fantasy creature. A character feels a prick on her arm and then loses consciousness.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the fantasy Wayward Son is a sequel to the popular Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. Reading Carry On first is recommended to help understand the characters and events that got them to where they are when this story opens. The main characters are now college age, living on their own in London, in their late teens and early 20s. Most of the violence involves fantasy creatures and magicians, with injuries and blood mentioned but not described in detail. One character is a vampire, and feeding on animals after breaking their necks is mentioned. Another vampire feeds on a human; blood is mentioned but there aren't any gory descriptions. Strong language is rare but includes "f--k" and "s--t." Individuals in a same-sex couple kiss a few times with descriptions of emotions rather than physical acts or body parts. Adults, a 20-year-old, and a character in his late teens drink in some scenes. Themes are mostly about how hard it is to cope with change and with the aftermath of momentous events, even when the outcome was good. Bonds of friendship and love, and having people you can count on, can help you through those times.
Is It Any Good?
This fantasy sequel is sure to surprise and delight fans who've waited patiently since the first installment for Simon's "happily ever after" to begin. They'll have to wait a little bit longer, though, because in Wayward Son, no one's happy with their situation after the events of Carry On. Just as she has so ably created relatable characters and captured the chaos and romance of first love, here author Rainbow Rowell captures the ongoing devastation when things don't turn out the way you wanted or hoped they would. Simon, Baz, and Penelope are such well-developed characters by now that the Harry Potter parallels fade even further into the background. Yet she keeps the pages turning by throwing one surprise after another, and plenty of danger, too, at the heroes. Fans will also find endearing the way the trio mostly flounders and blunders their way out of sticky situations while keeping and strengthening their bonds of friendship, love, and loyalty.
Colorful, mysterious new characters add intrigue as we watch old friends try to figure out motives and whom to trust. The cliffhanger ending absolutely demands a third installment.
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.