It seems appropriate to come back from another break from Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with a review of EXILE by MMGM founder Shannon Messenger. And I have even better news: I get to meet Shannon tonight! She’s doing a signing at a bookstore five minutes from my house, and I’m taking along a middle school friend of mine to meet her as well. So, to celebrate this momentous occasion, I will get a book signed for one of you lucky readers. Details on how to enter are at the bottom of this post. If you haven’t read the first book yet, you can check out my review for KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES here.
Sophie Foster thought she was safe. Settled in to 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 seemed 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.
And here are the five things I loved most:
1. The alicorn – Ok, who wouldn’t love a combination unicorn and pegasus? It’s every little girl’s dream, and Sophie finds one. Of course, it’s not all she dreamed about. It has stinky breath and glittery poop, proving all that glitters is not gold. Plus, there’s a fun twist about it toward the end that I enjoyed.
2. The love quadrangle – It’s so middle school. Sophie’s best friend Dex likes her. She likes Fitz, the boy every girl in school has a crush on but who thinks of her like a little sister. And then there’s Keefe, the overly confident boy who teases her constantly. Personally, I’m voting for Keefe, but the fact that Dex was on the first cover and Keefe is on the second leads me to think Fitz will be on the third, and that can’t be a good sign for the Sophie-Keefe tween romance. Oh well, it’s still fun to watch. Here’s a snippet of the Dex-Sophie-Keefe interaction, following a detention that involved some very stinky plants.
[Dex] grinned. But his smile faded when Keefe plopped into a chair across the table and whispered, “So, Foster, what time am I coming over–and I’m hoping it’ll be after you shower.”
She fanned his stink away. “Uh, I hope you’re planning on showering too.”
“He’s coming over again?” Dex whined, turning several heads.
I could go on with it, but you get the picture.
3. Keefe – Ok, I’m not finished talking about Keefe. He was one of my favorite things about the first book, and I still love this boy, mostly because he makes me laugh. Plus, I have a weakness for obnoxious boys. (Love you, honey!) Seriously, though, he really has Sophie’s back in this book. He never doubts her, which makes him even more endearing. However things turn out in the final book, I hope he gets a happy ending.
4. Sophie’s journey – This story has been set up as a trilogy from the beginning, so Sophie obviously doesn’t figure everything out in this book. And yet she takes some significant strides forward in EXILE. I admire the way Shannon Messenger is able to develop Sophie enough to make this book stand on its own from a character arc standpoint and yet still leave room for more growth in the final installment. Well done.
5. The ending – There are a ton of unanswered questions at the end of this book, and yet I was still satisfied with what I learned. It’s tough to end a middle book in a way that leaves the reader wanting more and yet completes one part of the story. Often the second book of a trilogy is a total cliffhanger, and I only appreciate that if the third book is already out. I will definitely be picking up the final book in this trilogy as soon as it comes out, but I’m ok with where the story left off for now.
So, here’s the deal on the giveaway. I think I’ll make it more interesting this time. To enter, leave a comment on this post by noon on Sunday, Oct. 27. If you want an extra entry, tweet the contest and paste the link to your tweet in your comment. Only one extra entry per person. North America only. I’ll announce the winner next Monday. Good luck!