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3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  331 ratings  ·  86 reviews
Andy is the janitor's son, an outcast, a nobody. Then the rumor starts-that Blake has a gun in his locker. In a moment of misguided hopefulness, Andy steals the keys from his dad and opens up Blake's locker, hoping that finding the gun will change his own status. But the gun isn't there and Andy remains an outcast. When an unlikely friendship develops between the two loner ...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Walker Childrens
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YA Novels of 2011
436th out of 1,281 books — 6,863 voters
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42nd out of 110 books — 187 voters

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Community Reviews

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I checked this book out on a whim, not really knowing much about it. I certainly did not expect a verse novel about a school shooter!

Andy's father is the school janitor. The kids call his father Mr. Clean, and call Andy "CJ" - Clean Junior. Since he started high school he's been alone, along with a handful of other "losers," including Blake, the jock Aaron's punching bag. Blake's father died in Iraq and there's a rumor that Blake is hiding a gun in his locker. Andy, trying to impress a popular g
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andy, the school janitor's outcast son, hears a rumor that Blake, another boy who's picked on, has a gun in his locker. When he steals his father's master key to take a peek, nothing is there. Blake forgives Andy, and the two become friends. Soon Blake shows his new friend the gun, and the two develop a fascination with the pistol. But is Blake's interest something more? And what, if anything is Andy's responsibly to his friend? To others who may be in danger?

I love the topic of the story, and e
Troubled bullied boy struggles through school and finds a friend and stumbles into a situation.

March 5th is my birthday, so it was creepy that it kept being mentioned in the book. (view spoiler)
I gave this book four stars because I thought it was great. I got confused in the begging but it started to make more sense. The book is about this boy named Andy and he gets bullied a lot because his dad was the janitor. Then rumors started fling around school that there was a gun in a locker that belonged to this kid named Blake. Andy took his dads keys and unlocked the locker to impress a girl which never happened. The rumors were fake until one day where Blake actually brought the gun to sch ...more
Saleena Davidson
Aaaand now another sad shootings.......however, this one isn't a tragic story and is a VERY fast read due to being told in poetry format. Andy is the janitor's kid and is one of a few bullied kids. He befriends Blake and through the course of their friendship he discovers that Blake has a gun, courtesy of his father who died in the military. Andy enjoys shooting the gun at cans and trees, but is worried at his friends obsession with "getting even" with all the bullies. He is ...more
(2015 Challenge - a book written by an author with your same initials)

Some of my favorite novels have been written in verse form, so I was excited to read this little story. But it was... missing something. Depth maybe.

The overall storyline was an important one. A boy knows that his only friend owns a gun, has anger issues, hates the world and could possibly be planning a school shooting. What does a well-meaning but practically friendless kid do in that situation?

I felt like one of the key po
Ashley Gerber
At first I wasn't convinced that the verse format suited the book well, but about halfway through I found the utter shutting out of dialogue by using poetry was pretty powerful. I was going to give it 3 stars until the poem "Why." Within the poem our protagonist offers this thought, "Language no longer affected us. That's the power a gun brings." The so-called moral of the story is to bring attention the seductive lure of weapons and violence we have allowed in young peoples lives. This book dri ...more
Emily Benoit
This book was a good, quick read.
We are introduced to the world of Andy, a fourteen year old kid, who is ignored, bullied, and basically, your average nerd.

When he hears rumours that somebody in school may have a gun in their locker, his mind goes into overdrive. He quickly fights a battle with himself, stuck in between stealing his father's master keys (his father is a janitor) and checking this out for himself, in order to get the girl he desperately wants, or keep quiet, and stay below the r
Alanna (The Flashlight Reader)
With his father as the school’s janitor, no one is willing to talk to Andy, unless they are making fun of him. His days are filled with constant torment and desire for unobtainable things. Andy accepts his place in the high school food chain… until the rumors begin.

Andy finds himself in the path of the social outcast, Noah, by accident. But then the two become friends. Noah and Andy have a bond. A secret that no one else knows. Then the poison of doubt starts to creep in to Andy’s mind. What if
Unlocked is a very quick, but powerful read. Told in free verse, Unlocked follows Andy as he befriends Blake, who may or may not be keeping a gun at school. Andy is the son of the school's janitor and is relentlessly bullied for this fact. Blake is also an outcast, but he's mostly ignored by his classmates until the gun rumor starts up. Andy becomes a bit obsessed with the idea of becoming popular if he can prove that there really is a gun hidden in Blake's locker, so he steals his fathers keys, ...more
Cass -  Words on Paper

As most verse novels are, Unlocked read really quickly. While perhaps a lot of potential emotional impact could have been extended had it been written in prose, Cleave made the right choice telling this story in verse, mainly because of the issues it presents.

High school brings much of the crap that junior high did: the cliques, the bullies, the rumours. Especially for losers, like the janitor's son, like Andy. Then, a rumour provides a rare opportuntiy for popularity: apparently, fellow outc
Ashley (Bookaholics Anonymous)
I had mixed feelings on this one. I had to pick it up with a tagline like "If you heard a rumor, would you stop the shooter?" and the jacket flap of course.

It was a journey through one social outcasts life becoming friends with another outcast. In the beginning it wasn't to much really to like or dislike. I didn't care one way or another about the characters themselves. I think what kept me reading was wanting to know if something bad was going to happen. I mean what good can come from a suppose
{Sited from my website TeenageBookaholic }

Unlocked by Ryan G. Van Cleave is the story of the Janitor's son, Andy, in High School for his first year. Andy is picked on a lot for being "Mr. Clean's" son. He's an outcast, a no one. Until another No One joins the crowd. Blake goes to the same school and was the popular kid in Middle School. Now, he's out and everyone avoids him- especially with the rumor that he's got a gun. Andy wants to find out if it's true so he looks, after swiping his dad's ke
Shannon Blaschko
This book really had me thinking. This book is about kids entering into their freshman year of school. It starts out describing several kids, and the storyline ends up with the main character trying to fit into a group his freshman year of high school. One of the other characters Blake is also a student that doesn't fit into a group. The rumor starts around school that Blake has a gun in his school locker. Blake and the main character become somewhat friends, until it comes down to the main char ...more
Lisbeth Avery {Domus Libri}
Not everyone likes books written in verse. I happen to enjoy them a lot. Verse can tell you more at times than normal script. It can hide another meaning in the pretty words.

And maybe, what I enjoy the most: young adult book written in verse all share something. You can sympathize with the characters more, at least that’s my opinion.

I sympathized with Andy in the book, but sometimes I felt like screaming:

“YOU ARE AN MORON!” *pull out hair*

And five seconds later:


I have a problem, I
Justin Miller
The authors purpose of this book would be to entertain. It could also be a persuaded book to. This reason is because the author is trying to persuade people not to bring weapons to school and to watch out for other people that bring weapons to school. you will never know, well the book is about this kid named blake that has a gun. At first everyone thought it was a rumor, but turns out blake actually had a gun. The style of this book would be that it was told in like a teenager in high schools p ...more
Moonie Jarl
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
This novel in verse is told from the point of view of Andy, a teen who is bullied and ostracized by his high school classmates. When Andy eventually befriends Blake, another outcast, he begins to feel better about himself and is able to cope with the bullying better. And then Blake brings a gun. What does Blake intend to do with the gun? Does Blake really intend to do anything with the gun? The suspense builds toward the end--I found myself reading faster and faster to find out what happens...

A novel in verse, Unlocked considers if a student should tell or should not tell if a friend has a gun at school. The book explored a great question, but it was way too short. Also, one of the more interesting parts was at the end after the main character's decision was made. There could've been a lot more to that. Would I recommend it to kids? Sure - interesting topic and easy to read and the not-often-read genre of poetry. Did I like it? Not a ton.
Shellie Foltz
Unlocked by Ryan G. Van Cleave is a simple story in simple verse which makes for quite a contrast considering its subject matter. The big question? What would you do if you knew your friend had a gun at school?

Van Cleave tackles this mountainous problem in such a straight-forward manner it's eerie. The author showed an amazing ability to cut through the confusion of cliques and desires and bullying, to hold so straight the line of friendship and trust and innocence, that one might truly believe
Arthur Pengerbil
Reading Level: Grades 7+

When you're the janitor's kid, you don't have many friends. You don't have any friends. Andy is no different, but when he hears a rumor that the school outcast, Blake, has a gun in his locker, he decides to make friends with Blake. When the boys do become friends, Andy must choose between protecting his only friend and protecting a school full of kids who could care less about him?


Just Another Hero by Sharon Draper

Shooter by Walter Dean Myers

Jumped by Rita Wil
Mundie Moms & Mundie Kids
This is one of those books that will make you think. It's a short book, but one that's packed with insight into bullying, school violence and social outcasts.

Unlocked introduces readers to Andy, the high school janitor's kid, who makes friends with another outcast, Blake. Written in verse, this story is one that allows readers to see the impact bullying has on other kids. It allowed me to sympathize with the way Andy and Blake were feeling. In the end it's a story that will test a friendship and
The book wasn't horrible, but the style of writing made it a bit hard to read. I kept finding myself getting confused as to where the author intended for a pause in sentences. The book was a really fast read and had a good moral to the story. Didn't expect the book to end this way, but it was still a satisfying read.
If I were still teaching, I would definitely have my students read this book. It's written in verse and an easy read, and I think it would really hit home with some kids. It is told by Andy, a high school freshman and the son of the janitor--it goes without saying that he's bullied from day one. He eventually befriends Blake, also bullied, who is rumored to have a gun in his locker. Andy eventually must decide between snitching on his friend or staying loyal despite the possible consequences.

Andy is the janitors son, so automatically he has become an outcast. There are other outcasts, but there is only one who is as big an outcast as he is, Blake. There is a rumor going around that Blake has a gun in his locker. And when the girl that Andy likes asks him to find out the truth and show her the gun Andy decides to steal his dad's keys to find out. But there is no gun and Andy gets caught returning the keys. But after that Blake decides to start being friends with Andy. They have a lot ...more
Jake Chapman
I was at my cousin's library and took a whiff with this book.


Horrible, my first book in poems but still a story. The sentences were plain, boring and very soon lost interest in this book. I'm sorry-I loves the story line and where I thought it was heading, but it had too short of chapters and everything was moving to fast for me. If this book was written like How To Save A Life by Sara Zarr, I would have adored this book. But, it wasn't. Mainly no description. Maybe there is something tha
A short novel in verse which addresses the issue of gun violence at schools. Andy's a bit of a loner, teased because his father is the janitor at his high school. Blake's another guy with few friends; his claim to fame is the whispered rumor that his locker contains a gun. He and Andy become friends, and Blake shows Andy how to shoot a gun. Andy likes shooting, but is worried that the act is becoming too important to him. He questions his motives in being friends with Blake, and wonders at what ...more
Kevin Sassman
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
When you're the janitor's kid, you don't have many friends. You don't have any friends. Andy is no different, but when he hears a rumor that the school outcast, Blake, has a gun in his locker, he decides to make friends with Blake. When the boys do become friends, Andy must choose between protecting his only friend and protecting a school full of kids who could care less about him?

Just Another Hero by Sharon Draper
Shooter by Walter Dean Myers
Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia
Echo by Kate
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“Surely someone would do something. Then I realized: what if I were that someone?” 1 likes
“And it's okay for a man to know life is full of choices, and most of the ones we make are wrong.” 0 likes
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