Reading YA takes time. Books often stretch to 400 plus pages, and sometimes at the end of the day, those 400 pages aren’t worth an in-depth review. But you’d still like something, right?
So, at a glance, here are 5 rapid fire reviews of recent YA novels.
Children of Blood & Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. Henry Holt and Co., 2018. 544 pages.
Fans of Black Panther will thrill at the idea of a magical fantasy set in Africa, but will find themselves bogged down in a lengthy story. (That is also the first book in a series!) Magic has been brutally eradicated from Orisha by its monarchy. Zelie is a diviner, capable of doing magic —if it were present. When an artifact surfaces that is capable of returning Orisha’s magic, Zelie and a small group set out with that goal. Meanwhile, the king’s son and soldiers work, often brutally, to stop her. Continual flashbacks, emotional trauma, violence, torture, and sexuality hamper the story. Repetition causes the narrative to drag and ultimately hinders character development. Also, continual magic involving visions, mantras, spirits of the dead and blood rites, is enough to be off-putting to even a fantasy lover. For a Marvel fan, this is not Wakanda.
Firebrand by A. J. Hartley. Tor Teen, 2017. 336 pages.
A tangle of political complexities and intrigues bog down this sequel to Steeplejack. Ang, former steeplejack and now undercover investigator, is an interesting character, but even she suffers under a complex plot. A strong undercurrent of issues (most notably immigration and discrimination) drag the story down, making it feel agenda-based. Most disappointing though is the book’s conclusion. While it promises more, it also opens an alternative potential romance that will leave readers questioning Ang and hoping later books don’t veer into LGBTQ waters.
Murder, Magic & What We Wore by Kelly Jones. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2017. 304 pages.
Fans of Patricia Kindl & Garth Nix’s Newt’s Emerald should enjoy this light-hearted fantasy involving Regency England. Cast upon hard times, teenaged Annis Whitworth discovers a magical talent for sewing. False aliases, friendships and intrigue occur as she attempts to keep up appearances and unravel the mystery surrounding her father’s death. While a light read, one lecherous character’s behavior is noticed and encountered, marring a story that could otherwise be enjoyed by younger readers.
Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon. Blink, 2018. 336 pages.
A mediocre “sequel” to Oliver Twist full of heart-throbbing romance, kissing, barely repressed passion, and languishing looks. There’s a lot of romance in this book coupled with sensuality. Though historical fiction, it’s hard to feel the Victorian London setting. Olivia turns all social conventions topsy-turvey and a Robin Hood type morality encourages stealing from the rich for the sake of the poor. If teens want to read a really good historical romance, Scarlett Pimpernel or Mara, Daughter of the Nile are some alternatives.
Renegades by Marissa Meyer. Feiwel & Friends, 2017. 576 pages.
In an apocalyptic world, an angry teen seeks vengeance on the group of law keepers who have ruined her life —yet preserved society. The first book in a new series, Renegades feels stretched and leaves many unanswered questions. Hard-to-like characters and constant deception do nothing to help matters. In addition, Meyer includes a prominent homosexual couple, “dads” of one of the characters, whose lifestyle is highlighted. This darker more political tale will leave fans of the Lunar Chronicles disappointed.
Have you read any good YA recently? Comment and share!