“Unlocked”: the Long-Awaited Addition to Bestselling “Keeper of the Lost Cities” Series


Bella Kim

Cover and inside cover of “Unlocked”

Bella Kim, Co-Editor

Book 8.5 of the popular “Keeper of the Lost Cities” series was released on November 17, 2020. Eager fans waited one long year for the next book in the whimsical series that takes readers to the Lost Cities, a world of magic and fascinating creatures that is about to be changed forever. 

Shannon Messenger’s novels follow the story of Sophie Foster, an extraordinary girl who has kept secret from everyone that she is a Telepath- she has been able to hear people’s thoughts since she was five. Not until Fitz Vacker, another Telepath, finds her and tells her that she is an elf does she find out where she truly belongs: the Lost Cities. In the glittering Lost Cities, hidden among the human world, Sophie’s unusual talents and upbringing set her apart from other elves. She soon realizes that her perfect new home is hiding dark secrets.

Striving to uncover truths in her mysterious past, Sophie is dragged into danger and conspiracies that are not even supposed to exist. She finds support in Keefe Sencen and her other friends as they struggle to make impossible decisions, take risks and unravel the tangled lies and plots of elusive rebel organizations. New York Times bestselling author Lisa McMann describes the series as “A delightful and dangerous adventure with complex characters and relationships you’ll root for till the end of time.”

“Unlocked” is the ninth book in the New York Times and USA Today bestselling series. However, the author, Shannon Messenger, is calling it book 8.5 because it is a novella meant to be read between books eight and nine. McAuliffe eighth-grader Mikayla Sisk describes the series as a really great book series that I love because the author does a good job of making the lore seem real, even though it’s not.” 

The novella itself is in the last 235 pages of the 744-page long book. Bonus material makes up most of the first part of the novel, including registry files on main characters and neverseen (Keeper fans will get the joke) original artwork. Notes from Shannon Messenger are placed throughout the book, explaining the contents of following sections. She strongly recommends reading books one through eight before starting on “Unlocked,” as it contains many spoilers. 

A guide to all things Keeper, “Unlocked” summarizes most of the main events that took place in the series for readers who finished the eighth book a year ago and need a refresher. Registry files on the main characters give detailed accounts of their lives and some information that was previously unknown about them. Disciplinary and medical records (For Sophie and Keefe, these are very extensive.) and unique artwork of characters and iconic scenes are also included. An intricate map showing the locations on Earth of important places gives a new perspective on the “Keeper of the Lost Cities” world. 

Files on intelligent creatures and rebel groups recap the plots of previous books. Exclusive information on life in the Lost Cities and insights into their institutions make “Unlocked” the perfect reference book for all Keeper fans. Activities added by Shannon Messenger are “Keeper of the Lost Cities” themed quizzes, coloring pages and recipes. 

Arguably, the most interesting part of Unlocked is that Messenger chose to write it from the perspectives of both Sophie Foster and Keefe Sencen to give readers more information on Keefe’s thoughts. All previous books have been written from Sophie’s point of view only. Sisk adds, I loved reading from both Sophie’s and Keefe’s perspectives. It was a nice change and it was cool to see what exactly goes on in Keefe’s head.” In addition, Messenger has added artwork drawn by Keefe right before the novella. Keefe’s witty commentary follows the portraits, giving readers an undiluted view of exactly what he was thinking during the scenes he drew. 

After reading through the extensive Keeper guide, (or for some die-hard fans, skipping right to the novella) and a quick commentary from the author, the story picks up right after Messenger’s devastating cliff hanger from the previous book, “Legacy.” In her “Keeper of the Lost City” books, Messenger is notorious for leaving her readers hanging on extremely suspenseful cliffhangers. This new installment in the series is no exception, and Keeper fans will surely be left desperate to know what happens next. 

Unfortunately, the next book in the series is not scheduled to be released until November of 2021, so readers will have to wait another agonizing year to continue Sophie’s story. Sisk remarks, “The cliffhanger was insane and I can’t wait for the next book.”

Shannon Messenger will continue to bring the beloved world of the Lost Cities to fans. Their shelves crammed with thick books full of suspense, humor, plot twists, friendship, family and loss, readers will always treasure the mystical story and lovable characters of “Keeper of the Lost Cities.”