Map of Flames (The Forgotten Five) Book 1 by Lisa McMann: New Spin on Superpowers

X-Men meets Spy Kids in the new middle-grade series from the New York Times bestselling author, Lisa McMann (The Unwanteds).

Fifteen years ago, eight supernatural criminals fled Estero City to make a new life in an isolated tropical hideout. Over time, seven of them disappeared without a trace, presumed captured or killed. And now, the remaining one has died.

Left behind to fend for themselves are the criminals’ five children, each with superpowers of their own: Birdie can communicate with animals. Brix has athletic abilities and can heal quickly. Tenner can swim like a fish and can see in the dark and hear from a distance. Seven’s skin camouflages to match whatever is around him. Cabot hasn’t shown signs of any unusual power—yet.

Then one day Birdie finds a map among her father’s things that leads to a secret stash. There is also a note:  

Go to Estero, find your mother,and give her the map.

The five have lived their entire lives in isolation. What would it mean to follow the map to a strange world full of things they’ve only heard about, like cell phones, cars, and electricity? A world where, thanks to their parents, being supernatural is a crime?

I don’t read a lot of middle age books but I found the premise of this one too intriguing to pass up. I am grateful I took the chance on it. It is an incredibly engaging and new twist on super powered beings with a unique world and outlook. Lisa McMann has developed a world that is a blend of modern technology with the feel of fantasy all with superpowered teens. The story is engaging, fast paced, and leaves you wanting more. 

One of the reasons it’s so interesting is the characters. With the five children in the novel, we get the viewpoint of each of them in turn. While that could bog down the reader with too many points of view, Lisa McMann manages to keep the story flowing through those perspectives with very smooth transitions. 

The plot is simple. Birdie and her friends, all super powered, have been kept in isolation in the wilderness. While they don’t understand the world they came from, they are happy for the most part until Birdie’s father dies and he tells her to find her mother. This gives the characters plenty of motivation to leave their isolated safe home. Birdie and the others are smart but also real children who make mistakes and are less than perfect. Lisa McMann gives us each child’s point of view so we understand their motivations. As readers we engage with each teen and we root for them. And you fall in love with them.

While the story leaves me wanting more, it is clearly book 1 of at least two books, possibly more. If you love quests, if you love superheroes, if you love a new twist on all of these things, plus a blend of fantasy style setting with a modern world, you will love this book.  It is fun, it is riveting, and it will keep you reading until the very end as you can’t wait for more. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 heroes. 

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