Always Never Yours (Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka) | Goodreads | 4 stars
I thought this book looked cute but didn’t have huge expectations, which just gave it a greater chance of topping those low expectations.
At first blush, the protagonist seems like a typical YA protagonist – she has some romantic history, but she likes being behind the scenes. The second assumption was true, but the first wasn’t. Megan has more experience than the average YA protagonist, but she doesn’t like the “boy crazy” rumors bring her down – she knows she’s flirty and has had multiple relationships, and she doesn’t feel any shame about that. I loved seeing that, especially because Megan was very flirty and had no trouble having fun. Yes, she likes being a director instead of a lead in her high school productions, but she’s not shy like you often see (and I say this as a very shy person – I just get tired of always seeing them).
There was a lot more family drama than I expected as well, but in an interesting way. Megan’s parents have been divorced for at least three or four years and her father quickly remarried and has a toddler with another kid on the way. Megan lives with this growing family, but she feels separated from them, so it seemed fitting that her relationship with her dad was sometimes strained and distant.
I’m really excited to see what this boyfriend-girlfriend or husband-wife duo (not sure) writes next. As long as the next protagonist is as fun and the romance as cute, I think I’ll be happy.
Every Heart a Doorway (Seanan McGuire) | Goodreads | 4 stars
I started hearing a lot of lowkey raving for this older (2016) book that involved a lot of diversity, including an ace character, so I had to check it out. Yes, there’s diversity, but there’s a lot more to this little book than people talked about.
I began watching The Magicians while I was listening to this book on audiobook, and maybe it was because of that that I really saw the similarities with the Chronicles of Narnia. Instead of telling us about magical worlds that can be found behind mysterious doors, however, we get to see the fallout of all of the children and teenagers who made their way back to the regular world after finding incredible worlds. I definitely want to learn more about these worlds – because this book is so short (less than 170 pages!), we don’t get much of that at all, but there are sequels, so hopefully that’ll happen. One thing that I didn’t know going into this is that there are some creepy elements and a bit of a mystery. Those would have been selling points, so check this out if those are selling points to you as well.
This was a short but enchanting book, so I guess all the hype was worth it. I ended up speeding through it on audiobook, but I’d like to one day get my own copy and relish some of the descriptions of these many worlds beyond mysterious doors.
Children of Blood and Bone (Tomi Adeyemi) | Goodreads | 4 stars
There’s a reason that Tomi Adeyemi got so much praise and comparisons to J.K. Rowling (only less problematic, at least current Rowling) – this was a lush introduction to a fully-fleshed out world that has some basic similarities with our own, but a more magical and blood-thirsty version (well, our world can get plenty blood-thirsty, unfortunately). More importantly, the entire cast are people of color, living in their own world.
I’m sure I’m going to come across as a really, really white girl here, but I found myself comparing it to Black Panther, another story that celebrates a wholly African story that didn’t have white imperialism and colonization. There are mentions of some far-off countries that sound like Great Britain and such, but we never meet any characters from them (there are a couple characters who I think are coded as Asian characters), and they certainly didn’t tear apart the continent of Africa (or Orïsha, in this case). The allegory of magic is similar to that of race in our own world, but it’s written by a black author and is completely about black characters. At the end, there’s an author’s note that talks about inspiration from real life issues, like Black Lives Matters and many of its most high-profile murders. This is a very fantastical world, but it has a lot of inspiration, both good and bad, in our own imperfect world.
The book throws you in with a lot of information all at once, and three POV characters, so it took me a little bit to really get into it and understand the world. I’m excited to see what happens in the second book, now that I know these characters and the world pretty well. I’m sure it’ll be another epic story that we need in our world, in today’s climate and any other time.