Review: Unlocked by Shannon Messenger [KOTLC #8.5] || 🦄 I AM SCREAMING BECAUSE SHANNON HAS DONE IT AGAIN (aka please bury me till nov. 2021)

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)

Links: Goodreads || Amazon

Click here to see the somewhat SPOILERY blurb Book 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.

ya dare to end like that?????

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.

the artists who did the art are so amazing… i could stare at the art all day!!

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.

me when reading unlocked be like

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.

my poor keefe, here is my love for you, press on okay!!!

(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.

spoiler alert!

“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?!

spoilers over

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)

Thank you for reading/skimming through my screaming! Are you a KOTLC fanatic like me? Have you read Unlocked? Or do you plan to read the series one day? (you should!!)

51 thoughts on “Review: Unlocked by Shannon Messenger [KOTLC #8.5] || 🦄 I AM SCREAMING BECAUSE SHANNON HAS DONE IT AGAIN (aka please bury me till nov. 2021)

  1. ahahhahha i loved this post!! i loved reading your rant because it shows how passionate you are while reading!! don’t kill me, but i haven’t read keeper of the lost cities!! i’ve heard about it a couple of times, but after reading your (absolutely delightful) rant, i’m feeling super pressurized to pick this up aaaaahhhh!!!! ❤❤ i *hopefully* will get a chance to read kotlc soon, and then we can fangirl about it together ahhh 💗💗

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much Ahaana! I’m so glad you enjoyed my screaming haha…really appreciate your affirmation! *mood changes abruptly* YOU HAVEN’T- ahh please do!! It is seriously one of the many gems in the middle-grade age range I enjoy even when YA is the one suitable for my age! I hope that you get to read the whole series – it is quite a long one but each book flies by too fast, and the writing and plot gets better as the books progress! YESS I AM SUPER EXCITED to be able to fangirl with you one day!! Oops I’m rambling but thanks so much for your lovely comment, Ahaana! 🥰

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Ah, I haven’t read this series but this post might have convinced me to pick it up!! Your gifs are SO GOOD, hehe!! 🙂

    Cliffhangers are amazing but also the worst!! Looks like November 2021 can’t come soon enough! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I loved your post, though it reminded me once again that I still haven’t managed to get hole of Unlocked 😭 But I did order a copy yesterday, let’s see🤷‍♀️
    But my misery apart, I loved your review! Honestly, all those amazing words you used to describe it, the book really sounds as awesome as I am expecting it to be!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I didn’t read it in details…. cause I really don’t want to spoil myself 😂. I didn’t read the blurb like you suggested. I LOVED the gifs!! I really can’t wait to start all the books but I have soo many books that I MUST read😭😭.loved your screaming!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. YES YES ALISSA YES DON’T BE SCARED THE PAIN IS WORTH IT… okay maybe I shouldn’t have said that to pitch kotlc but know that it is 100% scream-worthy and the characters are all so *makes somer flustered hand gestures* – amazing… please please!! I want to scream about it with you if/when you read it ok!!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I am SOOO going to read this series sometime soon! You are like the third person TODAY to mention this series. Yup, I think it’s a sign. XDDD “Lord Hunkyhair”? With a nickname like that, I definitely need to read this thing! XP

    Liked by 1 person

  6. OMG! DO NOT GET ME STARTED ON 8.5. I CONVINCED MY DAD TO BUY IT, AND THOSE 20 DOLLARS WERE WORTH IT!! YESSS, WE FINALLY SEE THE PATH OOOOOOOOOO!!!! TEAM FOSTER-KEEFE 4EVAH! (sorry, I’m super hyped after reading your post. I finished it all up when I got it on November 17, like in 1 day.) THE FAN ART WAS AMAZING. Sigh, why did I not see your blog sooner!?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, no worries I love it when people get hyped in their comments… YES FOSTER KEEFE MY OTP HAHA… agreed, the art made the book even more worth it and I loved the pictures of the foster keefe scenes also AHHHH 😍😍 but omg I am so worried for them because that ending in Unlocked… november 2021 please come soon!! Aww thanks so much Sanskriti! 💕

      Liked by 1 person

      1. yess Can we just talk about that ADORABLE scene between keefe and sophie, the one where both are on silveny. Sophie’s blushing, BLUSHING!!AAAH

        Liked by 1 person

  7. YES YES YES YES OH MY GOSH.
    Okay I haven’t read this because THE BOOKS KEEP GETTING RELEASED AT A TIME THAT IS STILL SORTA FAR FROM CHRISTMAS BUT CLOSE ENOUGH THAT ITLL BE A CHRISTMAS PRESENT but it sounds soooo good. Wow I didn’t know it’s that short hmmmmph. But it sounds super interesting! yesss team foster keefe OB VI OUS LY
    Great review and I can’t wait to read this!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, 200 is so shorttttt. I feel like this is Shannon Messenger being like, ‘I can’t write 800 pages in a year and I want to get my readers something this year so I’ll just write this mini thing!’
        I’m excited to read Keefe’s POV, but I’m worried it will change my opinions on team foster keefe ship. Like, I ship them because of Keefe’s outside actions, how he reacts to things and what he does for Sophie/says but I’m worried that when we see all his inside thoughts that will change for me or something? I’m not sure…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Keefe’s POV is definitely worth it, I’m still a staunch Foster-Keefer shipper after reading it, maybe even more so… but that is a valid point! I don’t want to say much or it will get spoilery haha but I hope that the ship will continue to sail for you! Let me know when you read it okay!

          Liked by 1 person

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