Warning: this review was literally written 5 minutes after I finished Unlocked so there is a LOT of screaming and raving and it is messy and incoherent but I hope you will read it anyway.
(to make it clear, this review does not contain spoilers for any of Unlocked or any previous KOTLC books so if you haven’t read the series, this review is safe – just don’t read the blurb of the book)
(There were was supposed to be another post today but I just finished Unlocked and THIS REVIEW CANNOT WAIT – even if it’s 90% screaming in agony)
As the title goes, SHANNON HAS DONE IT AGAIN AND I AM SCREAMING BECAUSE I AM NOT OKAY AND NEED TO POSSESS TIME TRAVELLING SKILLS BECAUSE *deep breath*
KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES: UNLOCKED (SHANNON MESSENGER) [KOTLC #8.5]
Genre(s): Fantasy || Age Range: Middle Grade
Published: 17 November 2020 || Read: 8 December 2020
No. of Pages: 768 (hardcover)
Click here to see the somewhat SPOILERY blurbBook 8.5 in the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling Keeper of the Lost Cities series delivers what fans of the series have been begging for! Told in an exciting new way, the saga continues with plenty of huge reveals and shocking new twists—plus a complete series guide with beautiful color and black-and-white illustrations and other awesome bonuses! In this extra special installment of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, the story picks up right from Legacy’s particularly devastating cliffhanger. But chapters alternate between Sophie and Keefe’s perspectives to give readers deeper insights into both beloved characters. New powers will be discovered. Hard truths from the past will come to light. And all of your favorite characters will find themselves tested in ways they never imagined. And that’s not all! Unlocked also includes a comprehensive guide to the world of the Lost Cities, featuring new character and world details that have never been revealed before—plus fun bonuses like Keeper-themed recipes, a detailed map of the Lost Cities, gorgeous full-color illustrations, and so much more!
Series: KOTLC (book 1: Keeper of the Lost Cities, book 2: Exile, book 3: Everblaze, book 4: Neverseen, book 5: Lodestar, book 6: Nightfall, book 7: Flashback, book 8: Legacy, book 8.5: Unlocked)
Pfffffftttt. The blurb says “legacy’s particularly devastating cliffhanger”. It has nothing on Unlocked.
OKAY OKAY SHANNON WHAT YOU DID WITH THAT ENDING WAS TOTALLY NOT OKAY NOT OKAY I LITERALLY SCREAMED OUT LOUD HOW HOW SOMEONE KILL ME AND THE REVIVE ME NEXT NOVEMBER BECAUSE I CANNOT WAIT.
I know people have been calling KOTLC draggy and repetitive, claiming that it should have ended long ago…You guys are entitled to your own opinions but I’m going to ignore y’all here a bit okay because KOTLC IS MY WHOLE LIFE AND UNLOCKED MADE ME WHOLE AGAIN AFTER ONE YEAR (though it ripped me apart again – I’m trying to ignore that)
The only thing that upset me about this book was WHY IS THE NOVELLA ONLY 200 PAGES (*ignores the glaring fact that novellas aren’t supposed to be that long)… okay now I can proclaim my love for it with that only negative (if it’s even counted) element out of the way.
Because first LET’S TALK ABOUT HOW AMAZING THAT SERIES GUIDE WAS. I admit, I did skim certain parts because I was not interested to learn about every single plant and blah blah but it’s a guide so it’s good everything is being included. Other than a bit of factual and boring parts, IT WAS SO SO GOOD. With some parts of the guide being narrated by familiar faces/ voices, I was thoroughly intrigued and shaken to tears by how HILARIOUS it was!! Bring on all the sass and snark!!
AND THAT ART!!!! I REGRET GETTING THE PAPERBACK COPY BECAUSE I DIDN’T KNOW I WOULDN’T GET THE FULL-COLOUR MAP!!!??? but it was still incredible nonetheless. We had COLOURED illustrations in the book and a lot of them featuring pivotal moments across the series and I could relive all that fear and happiness and generally Silveny level hyped-upness through those beautiful pieces of art…. I am not kidding, I literally stared at them till my eyeballs popped out.
Even the non-coloured art was SO DAMN GOOD OKAY LIKE *absolutely mindblown*. And seeing so many of my favourite characters in such detail and beauty in an official book was just … *wails*
ALSO I REALISED THAT I HAVE BEEN PRONOUNCING ALDEN WRONGLY ALL THIS WHILE!!
Overall I really appreciated the series guide and loved how much it summarised all the bits and pieces we have been learning about the Lost Cities over the past 8 books…I could suddenly see the whole scale of how intricate and well thought out the world was and my already out of the roof respect for Shannon Messenger became even more colossal. KOTLC HAS ONE OF THE BEST WORLD BUILDING EVER OKAY.
Now onto the novella.
AH. AH. AH. AH. AH. AH. AH. AH. AH. AH. AH. AH. AH.
As with all of her books, I am suffering some mAjoR book hangover because WHY IS SHE SO GOOD AT TORTURING SOULS WITH CLIFFHANGERS – and these cliffhangers aren’t the silly kinds simply to make you eager for the next book without adding much value, Shannon’s cliffhangers are always GAME-CHANGING, NERVE WRECKING AND ABSOLUTELY BREATHTAKING. Like after I got over my shock, I would marvel at how well things were built up and then just left there with an abrupt twist.
Okay, now let’s talk about the plot. Yeah once again, I acknowledge some people saying that the KOTLC books are a lot of repetition and stalling… yeah I do see that but I don’t care – GIMME ALL OF IT. And Unlocked felt really different… firstly, it felt smaller? In the sense that when I read KOTLC books, it feels extremely overwhelming in the perfect way, as if the whole world is moving all at once. In Unlocked, it felt much more focused and on track (I mean it is only 200 pages sooo), a new style which I appreciated as well!
Another thing would be the noticeable lack of much action WHICH WAS OKAY. YES CHERELLE IS GOOD WITH NOT MUCH ACTION. (y’all heard right)
KOTLC chaos is top notch and I did wonder if I would still be able to like a KOTLC book with all that badass fighting against all those disgusting villains… and I STILL LOVED UNLOCKED in the way that it was throwing so many game changers and expanding on them that I was hooked and finished it promptly in one sitting. (and did i mention those small references to some unsolved mysteries?????)
IT WAS EXHILARATING TO PUT IT SIMPLY.
This was especially thanks to the alternating POVs between Keefe and Sophie. There was kind of like one big thing going on in each of their parts simultaneously and how it kept switching at those crucial moments was SO SO SO SO INTENSE.
And speaking of which, FINALLY WE GET LORD HUNKYHAIR FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY. I loved, absolutely adored hearing from Keefe’s POV. Unlocked truly brought out Keefe’s character more, giving me such an amazing understanding of *that abstract thing which shall not be named* and show the darker side of him emerge, as well as reminding us of how much he cared AND WHY HE DESERVES ALL THE LOVE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.
(team foster keefe for life!)
Unlocked managed to get me hopelessly amused and laughing out loud… at the same time breaking my heart, emphasizing some of the sensitive issues like discrimination that I loved was being addressed throughout the series. AND I WAS INCREDIBLY HAPPY AND GRINNING SO MUCH BECAUSE I LOVE ALL THE CHARACTERS AND HOW MUCH THEY SUPPORT EACH OTHER AND ALL THE ANGST AND TENSION AND SNARKINESS.
“That was the first time it felt like… maybe I had a tiny shot at making this brave, beautiful, blushing girl like me. Hasn’t worked out that way yet. And I have no idea if it ever will. But there’s a teeny, tiny chance.”
Team Foster Keefe! Please! Though after that ending in Unlocked…
“YEAH, WHO KNEW THE GREAT KEEFE SENCEN WAS SO BORING!”
“HE’S NOT BORING! HE’S CUTE!”
“EWWW, BEX LIKE KEEFE!”
“SO WHAT IF I DO!” …
Especially when Rex and Lex started making a bunch of really loud kissy noises anc hanting, “BEX WANTS TO SMOOCH HIM!”
Everytime I see a bunch of capital letters on the page, my whole face brightens. Lex and Bex and Rex are so hilarious! I love the Diznees haha!
“Okay, I’m done liking Captain Perfectpants,” Ro announced.”
OKAY ELWIN AND RO ARE OFFICIALLY MY FAVS – i can’t believe i didn’t adopt them sooner (also Ro’s sudden moment of affection was groundbreaking)
“Just let it bring fear and hope to people, Miss Foster. And let it remind you to be strong and smart. Use it to change the game – but make sure you win the right way. And never forget that moonlarks can’t do everything on their own. Not even you.”
You!! Go!! Sophie!! It is just so heartening seeing my little girl who has been hurt, fire back take control and initiative and MR FORKLE APPROVAL?!
TRULY A WONDER OF A NOVELLA PACKED IN 200+ PAGES (and an entertaining yet well thought-out series guide with some solid art). OKAY GOODBYE WORLD TILL #9 COMES OUT… SHANNON WE ARE CHEERING YOU ON – TAKE CARE OF OUR BELOVEDS OKAY?!!
(in a collected tone)