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Book Review

Island of Silence by Lisa McMann has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the second book in the “Unwanteds” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Alex Stowe comes from the practical kingdom of Quill, which classifies its citizens as Necessary, Wanted or Unwanted. The Necessary class do all of Quill’s unskilled labor, the Wanteds rule the society and the Unwanteds are sent to be executed. Fortunately, instead of dying, the Unwanteds are secretly rescued and brought to the magical, creative land of Artimé. When a recent battle brought down the barrier between the two realms, Quill was left in chaos as Wanteds discovered that their presumed-dead relatives were alive and Necessaries fled across the border to Artimé to escape their unfair jobs.

As an Unwanted, Alex has been living in Artimé and is excited about the future, but his twin, Aaron, a prized Wanted who remains in Quill, is furious over the destruction of his carefully ordered life. After he is evicted from his university, he vows revenge on Artimé, the land he feels is responsible for his fall from power.

Mr. Today, the leader of Artimé, wants to train Alex as his successor. As a start, he wants Alex to take over leadership while he goes on a holiday. Alex’s three friends, Samheed, Meghan and Lani, are given leadership positions helping the Necessaries get settled into their new home. Alex has regular meetings with Mr. Today to prepare him for leadership. Alex doubts his ability to take Mr. Today’s place, especially since it might put him in conflict with his bitter, estranged twin, Aaron.

Aaron finds a temporary place to live in High Priest Haluki’s abandoned home in Quill, and he manages to gather a group of discontented Quillians known as the Restorers. He leads them in military raids against Artimé, even killing one of Artimé’s magical animals in the process. One of Aaron’s double agents in Artimé manages to steal a bunch of magic spells from Artimé, including several heart attack spells, which Aaron plans to use to assassinate Mr. Today.

An unconscious boy and girl with strange collars made of metal thorns sewn into their necks wash up on Artimé’s beach. Lani, Samheed and Meghan borrow Mr. Today’s boat without permission and sail to a nearby island, curious to see whether it’s the island the collared children came from. They notice that the island produces no sound whatsoever. It’s an island of silence. When the three children are attacked and imprisoned by the natives of the island, they receive metal thorn collars, which prevent them from speaking. Meghan manages to run away, but Lani and Samheed are trapped.

Alex notices his friends missing and rides to their rescue on Simber, a giant flying cheetah made out of stone. Alex finds the boat his friends left behind and also discovers an exhausted Meghan. Meghan is crying silently because of her collar, so she can’t tell Alex what happened to Lani and Samheed. When Meghan faints, Alex takes her back to Artimé in the boat for medical treatment. Simber flies alongside them. Simber’s magic suddenly fails and he falls into the sea, his weight causing a wave that capsizes Alex’s boat and tosses him and Meghan into the water.

Mr. Today visits High Priest Haluki’s house and is surprised to find Aaron and his Restorers there. Aaron attacks Mr. Today with five heart attack spells, killing him. The Restorers imprison Mr. Today’s daughter, Ms. Morning, and also capture High Priest Haluki when he comes home. In order to protect his family, Haluki gives up his power and installs Aaron as High Priest of Quill.

Alex swims with Meghan to the shore of Artimé and finds all of Artimé’s glory faded, its buildings and plants and animals vanished or dead because they were created by Mr. Today and died along with him. The Restorers attack Artimé, resulting in further chaos as the Necessaries flee back to Quill to avoid the troubles that have overtaken Artimé. Alex tries to find food and water for the remaining Artiméans, and he rallies them together to defend their home and rebuild it. With his mentor dead, his country in shambles and two of his best friends imprisoned on an island of silence, Alex feels hopeless. Then he finds a cryptic note left by Mr. Today before his death, a note containing a spell that might restore all of Artimé to its former glory.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

Various kinds of magic are used throughout the book. Mr. Today can create life from inanimate objects, so he has living statues, such as Simber, the giant flying cheetah, that serve him. Magic spells are common practice. Aaron kills Mr. Today with five heart attack spells. When Mr. Today dies, all his magic dies with him.

Authority Roles

Mr. Today is a pleasant, jovial person who encourages all his students’ talents and respects their opinions. Even when Alex turns down Mr. Today’s offer to become the next leader of Artimé, Mr. Today doesn’t try to enforce his own will on Alex. High Priest Haluki is a fair man who tries to govern wisely.


Samheed, Meghan and Lani are attacked and immobilized. Lani listens to Meghan screaming in pain. Later she experiences the same pain herself as her attacker sews a necklace of metal thorns into her skin.



Discussion Topics

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Additional Comments/Notes

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

8 and up


Lisa McMann






Record Label



Aladdin, a division of Simon and Schuster


On Video

Year Published





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