Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review: Exile by Shannon Messenger

Title: Exile 
Author: Shannon Messenger
Genre: MG, Fantasy
Series: Keeper of the Lost Cities #2

Hardcover, 576 pages
Publication: October 1,2013 by Aladdin 

Source: I received an Arc from the publicist. 

Sophie Foster thought she was safe. Settled into her home at Havenfield, surrounded by friends, and using her unique telepathic abilities to train Silveny--the first female alicorn ever seen in the Lost Cities--her life finally seems to be coming together.

But Sophie's kidnappers are still out there. And when Sophie discovers new messages and clues from the mysterious Black Swan group, she’s forced to take a terrifying risk—one that puts everyone in incredible danger.

As long buried secrets rise to the surface, it’s once again up to Sophie to uncover hidden memories—before someone close to her is lost forever.

Sophie and the gang are all back in EXILE, the second installment in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series by Shannon Messenger.  The story begins with Sophie discovering a rare creature that the councils have been searching for millenniums, an alicorn (unicorn with wings). The alicorn is put into Sophie and Grady’s care for rehabilitation in time for a timeline reset celebration and eventually the alicorn home in the sanctuary (where all rehabilitated rare animals go to). Meanwhile, Sophie is still trying to learn more about her abilities and worrying about her second year at Foxfire Academy.  Days leading up to Sophie’s return to Foxfire, she discovers cryptic messages from the ‘terrorists’/rebellion’ group The Black Swan urging her to find answers to her past by visiting a particular person…Prentice, the keeper for the Black Swan except Prentice is locked away in Exile, an undisclosed location that only a handful of people know about.

EXILE, is a terrific follow-up book in the series. Messengers definitely delivers in this sequel as she takes readers from a school setting to explore other dark and mysterious parts of the Elvin world. The book focuses mainly on Sophie’s endless abilities and her relationship to the Black Swan group. Readers discover alongside Sophie what really makes her different from the others (genes), how and why the Black Swan Group created her in the first place (one of their many goals/tasks that they need her to fulfill). 

The main theme of family and friendship is once again present in EXILE, and just as heart-warming. Sophie has a strong support system, but ties are strained when someone close to Sophie is on the brink of death/destruction. Sophie learns to rely on her amazing guardian/parents that care for her dearly and friends particularly Keefe this time around. Trying to do everything on her own and keeping secrets started to take a toll, but eventually Sophie was able let other help shoulder the burden. 

There were some characters from book 1 that took the back seat this time around only popping up for a few scenes here and there, but I was glad to see a character that we met at the end of book 1 make a solid addition to book 2. Sandor, Sophie’s goblin body guard literally shadows Sophie wherever she goes and their bickering with one another was just hilarious. I was also happy that we got to see more of Keefe, he was a comical relief during the more dark-serious scenes (but he was serious when it mattered). 

I love EXILE, and after reading it, it has cemented itself as one of my all-time favorite series. Messenger weaves another amazing adventure with characters you can’t help but love and care about. If you’re looking for a series you can get lost in, this is it. I’ve written this in my last review but I’ll say it again; this may be a middle-grade series but it WILL appeal beyond its core audience, definitely a book/series for all ages. I highly recommend Keeper of the Lost Cities & EXILE, you will not be disappointed!  I can’t wait for book 3, dying to know more about the Black Swan, Prentice and of course  to see more of Sophie and her wonderful friends and family. 

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