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All the latest reviews from the official YABC Team.

Featured Review: Verntropa (E.L. Clarke)

July 7th, 2022 by

 

 

About This Book:

When we dream, where do we go? Olivia Merton has only ever known Earth after the shift. For fifteen years there has been no sunshine, little rain…and resources are scarce. A recurring dream provides an escape from her troubled monochrome life and leads her to a vividly coloured landscape, populated by four distinctive societies. This world is Verntropa. Her attempts to describe her dream-memories are met with distrust and she fears for her grasp on reality – until she discovers that Earth is in danger and a mission on Verntropa awaits her if she is to fulfil her destiny. Does Olivia have the prophesied power needed to strengthen the balance between her two worlds, or will it, and she, be damaged beyond repair? As Olivia’s fate unfolds, she is thrown into a fast-paced adventure where she discovers the meaning of trust and true friendship. One thing is certain – her life will never be the same again.

 

 

*Review Contributed by Elisha Jachetti, Staff Reviewer*

VERNTROPA by E.L. Clarke is a YA Sci-Fi novel in which Earth has become gray and colorless in the last fifteen years. Unbeknownst to humans, Verntropa, another planet full of vibrant life, is responsible for maintaining the balance between the two places, but forces there are trying to tip that balance into Verntropa’s favor, essentially enslaving humans. As foretold by a prophesy, it’s up to Olivia Merton, a teenage girl on Earth, to save her home, but it won’t be easy. Olivia visits Verntropa only in her dreams, and besides learning of its existence and the fact that she’s in danger, everyone around her in her waking hours on Earth has started acting weird also. She’s going to have to figure out who she can trust in both lands, otherwise life as she’s known it will be over.

The premise of this book is really fun and I’d love to see it realized in the form of a film. The visuals of the different creatures and societies that exist in Verntropa, and the orange grass and sky that change color are so cool to imagine. Plus, all of the characters have their own personalities, wants, desires, and needs that make for a lot of unexpected twists and turns. Rykie is perhaps my favorite with his inventions, quick wit, and constant ability to be in the right place at the right time.

What’s missing for me is a stronger reason why Patricia Merton is so horrible. I understand that she blames her daughter for everything, but she’s so cruel that I wanted to at least empathize with her in the end, or at the very least, understand why Jeffrey and Ben let her get away with her behavior. Along the same lines, I still feel a bit unclear on Blancher’s history. I have some big questions surrounding what transpired fifteen years ago and the events that set this story into motion. Perhaps if this expands into more books, it all will be addressed down the line.

That being said, VERNTROPA offers a fresh take on what a dystopian-like world could be with a unique premise for what’s causing climate change and what kind of life exists beyond us. Fans of the DREAM WALKER series by Kit Alloway won’t be disappointed.

 

 

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*

Kid Review: Just Try One Bite by Adam Mansbach

July 6th, 2022 by

 

About This Book:

 

An instant New York Times bestseller! From the bestselling author of Go the **** to Sleep and healthy eating advocate Camila Alves McConaughey comes a whimsical role reversal in which picky eater parents are confronted by their three kids, with hilarious results

 

These three kids are determined to get their parents to put down the ice cream, cake, and chicken fried steak to just try one bite of healthy whole foods. But it’s harder than it looks when these over-the-top gagging, picky parents refuse to give things like broccoli and kale a chance. Kids will love the jaunty rhyme that’s begging to be read aloud and the opportunity to be way smarter—and healthier—than their parents.

 

*Review Contributed by Behany Wicker, Staff Reviewer*

 

Encouraging Healthy Eating Habits

 

JUST TRY ONE BITE is a humor-filled story with a role reversal between the children and the parents. Most parents want their children to eat healthy, but we don’t always apply those same rules to ourselves. While we don’t always give the option for our children, we still choose chips and soda over broccoli and water.

This book is a way to encourage healthy eating habits between both parents and children. It’s a story that’ll bring a smile to your child’s face as they watch the grown ups run away from the food for a change. The children even try to use bargaining, another tool parents like to use. While this story puts parents on blast, it makes them aware that our children are watching us and see the choices you make. Why not let them see good ones?

Final Verdict: JUST TRY ONE BITE is a comical children’s book that uses role reversal to get across the point of healthy eating. The illustrations are just as silly as the story. I would recommend this book to picky eaters of all ages, and yes, I’m looking at the parents too!

 

 

*Find More Info & Buy This Book Here*

Middle-Grade Review: Freddie vs. The Family Curse by Tracy Badua

July 6th, 2022 by

 

About This Book:

 

Freddie Ruiz is cursed.

While other people may have bad days, Freddie and his family have had bad generations: from bird poop splatting on him during picture day to the many tumbles and trips that earned him the nickname Faceplant Freddie. He’s learned to lay low and keep himself out of trouble—which means no fun, no friends, and definitely no risks.

But when he discovers a family heirloom, a century-old amulet from the Philippines that’s supposed to bring good fortune, Freddie thinks his luck is finally about to change.

He couldn’t be more wrong. Because the spirit of Freddie’s cranky great-granduncle Ramon is trapped in the heirloom, and the evil spirits responsible for his death have returned with a vengeance. Now, Freddie and his cousin, Sharkey, have thirteen days to break the curse, or Freddie will join Ramon for an untimely afterlife in the amulet.

*Review Contributed by Karen Yingling, Staff Reviewer*

 

Interesting way to address family history

 

Freddie Ruiz has always had bad luck; it’s why he is called “Faceplant Freddie”. He keeps his head down, moves carefully, and limits his interests to RoboWarriors gaming cards. His great grandmother, Apong Rosing, tells him it is because of a family curse that occurred back during World War II, when she lived in the Philippines and her older brother, Ramon, became a soldier and was killed in battle. His cousin, Sharkey, lives next door, and since she is a Mendoza, she has perfectly fine luck, and is an excellent break dancer who works with the Wyld Beats dance crew at their school. When Freddie finds an amulet in the garage while looking for glue for a school project (he’s run out; that’s how his luck goes!), he is surprised when it comes to life and holds the spirit of his great uncle Ramon! He finds out that Ramon stole the amulet for luck from his best friend, Ingo Agustin, before going on the mission during which he was killed, and that the family has suffered under Agustin’s curse. Freddie has 13 days to find Ingo and have him remove the curse or the spirits will kill him! He and Sharkey try to research, but it’s hard to find a 97 year old former soldier who may or may not have survived the war! Luckily, they track him down in Nevada, which is a bit too far from their San Diego home to take an Uber when he refuses to talk to them. Sharkey is supposed to compete in a break dancing competition in Las Vegas, but when she sprains her ankle due to Freddie’s bad luck, the two decide that Freddie will take her place so they can travel there and stay in a hotel thanks to Wyld Beats sponsorship. The leader of the team, Dale, is very apprehensive, but Freddie works hard and doesn’t do too badly, and challenges Dale to a RoboWarriors match to seal his place on the team. Apong Rosing decides she wants to go to the competition as well, and they are soon on their way. Time is of the essence, since the evil spirits are closing in, and the children manage to make it by bus to the Oasis nursing home where Ingo lives. They must create a distraction when the staff won’t let them see Ingo, and this involves breakdancing which actually sets a few things on fire! Will they be able to find Ingo and discover the true nature of the curse, and get him to remove it?
Good Points

This was the perfect balance of a lot of things. It had some social issues, since Freddie has some anxiety about his constant embarrassment. There’s the cultural connection with a rich background of Filipino history and family traditions. There’s even a little WWII history with the Bataan Death March. The inclusion of breakdancing was absolutely perfect, since break dancing is going to be included as a sport in the 2024 Olympics. Combine all of these things with funny scenes, a road trip, and a thread of self acceptance and personal growth, and this is an absolute winner. The short length helps, and the cover looks fun. There are a huge number of students to whom I can hand this. Definitely worthy of a Kirkus starred review.

This was such a huge relief to read after ingesting a large number of lyrical, socially relevant, timely stories. It’s possible to address these needs and include cultural content while still having a book that is a bit more light hearted and positive. After all, the information about the Filipino involvement in World War II is pretty dire, but it’s handled in such an interesting and (dare I say it?) sweet way that what I took away from this was Ingo’s spirit of forgiveness and the Ruiz’s determination to move on after tragedy. Definitely my favorite book this month.

*Find More Info & Buy This Book Here*

Featured Review: Blood and Moonlight (Erin Beaty)

July 6th, 2022 by

 

About This Book:

In Erin Beaty’s fantasy mystery-thriller, Blood and Moonlight, an orphan with a secret, magical sight gets caught between a mysterious genius and the serial killer he’s hunting.

Rising above the city of Collis is the holy Sanctum. And watching over its spires is Catrin, an orphan girl with unique skills―for she alone can spot the building’s flaws in construction before they turn deadly.

But when Catrin witnesses a murderer escaping the scene of his crime, she’s pulled into a dangerous chain of events where the only certainty is that the killer will strike again. Assigned to investigate is the mysterious and brilliant Simon, whose insights into the mind of a predator are frighteningly accurate.

As the grisly crimes continue, Catrin finds herself caught between killer and detective while hiding her own secret―a supernatural sight granted by the moon, destined to make her an outcast, and the only thing that might save her and those she loves from becoming the next victims…

 

*Review Contributed by Olivia Farr, Staff Reviewer*

BLOOD AND MOONLIGHT is an enthralling YA fantasy/mystery. Catrin is an orphan in Collis, raised in the abbey and currently working for the architect in charge of the Sanctum, a magnificent religious building that sits over the town. Catrin is in charge of checking the scaffolding after a deadly accident, and she does her job well. Her favorite time to check is at night, when few are about. One night when she goes to check, she has an unusual experience and hears someone shouting for help. Her search to save the person results in her finding the gruesome scene and body.

The crime would not normally attract much attention as the victim is poor and with a less desirable profession, but circumstances have led to the comte appointing a venatre (detective) to look into it. As she found the body, Catrin agrees to be interviewed by and then later work with the venatre, Simon, to solve the case before the killer acts again. As the case heats up, Catrin finds herself in the middle of something sinister and threatening.

What I loved: This was a story that captures the reader from the start. The case begins quickly and steadily with Catrin and Simon in the middle of the investigation as it heats up with plenty of red herrings. There was a huge one that I was totally convinced about, and I loved being surprised when I was wrong. The investigation involves a lot of observation and profiling, with a Jack the Ripper feel.

The world-building was lush, and the city is built through the crime scenes with a focus on Catrin’s job and the majesty of the Sanctum. The religions were particularly intriguing, and we slowly learn about the abbey and through it, the religion of the realm which centers around the sun. On the fringes of society are the Selenae, whose religion centers around the moon and whom seem to have magick, unnatural abilities of a magical nature – they are considered heretics and mostly keep to the shadows. This world-building creates a much more intricate and intriguing story.

Catrin was a compelling character, and her story is one of self-discovery and determination. She is beginning to chart her own path, while trying to understand her past and the motives of the people who care about her. Her life had been decided by the Abbey and then by the Magister (architect), and she now is charting something new for herself with the case and investigation, as well as finding new people to care about. Simon was also an intriguing character, and he becomes more full and captivating as we learn more about him and the people for whom he cares. Other secondary characters were also endearing and fully realized, including Juliane, the Magister, and the Abbess, as well as others we meet later in the story, particularly Athene.

Themes around politics, socioeconomic divides, prejudice in the justice system, religion and its prejudices, mental illness, and the value of life. In a fantasy world without an evolved medical system, the treatment of mental illness was handled well. Simon has a deeper understanding of it, though this is still surface level and they find it challenging to treat. The socioeconomic divide of the justice system was also a compelling theme with the investigation ongoing for women that society would typically dismiss.

Final verdict: With lush world-building, compelling characters, and thought-provoking themes, BLOOD AND MOONLIGHT is a YA fantasy thriller that readers will certainly devour. Highly recommend for fans of DANCE OF THIEVES, A TIGER AT MIDNIGHT, and STALKING JACK THE RIPPER.

 

 

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*

Kid Review: The Meaning of Pride by Rosiee Thor

July 5th, 2022 by

 

About This Book:

 

Every year in June, we celebrate Pride! But what does Pride mean? And how do you celebrate it?

 

This inspiring celebration of the LGBTQ+ community throughout history and today shows young readers that there are many ways to show your pride and make a difference.

Whether you want to be an activist or an athlete, a poet or a politician, a designer or a drag queen, you can show your pride just by being you!

 

*Review Contributed by Kim Baccelia, Staff Reviewer*

 

The Meaning of Pride

 

Colorful celebration of what Pride means shown through LGBTQA+ role models.

This picture book starts with the historical background of some leaders who fought for their rights at Stonewall. There’s a breakdown of what LGBTQA means. The book also shows how celebrities, sports figures, politicians, activists, and others celebrate Pride. I love the mural-like illustrations throughout that add so much to this picture book.

At the back of the book are mini-biographies of some of those in the LGBTQA+ community. Also, there are mentions of other books that can help in discussions.

A fun way to start off a conversation of Pride week!

Good Points
1. Colorful celebration of what Pride means shown through LGBTQA+ role models

*Find More Info & Buy This Book Here*

Middle-Grade Review: Lark and the Wild Hunt by Jennifer Adam

July 5th, 2022 by

 

About This Book:

 

The Real Boy meets The Girl Who Drank the Moon in this magical middle grade adventure, which takes readers deep into the world of the fae on one brave young girl’s quest to save her brother.
Never trust a fae.

Lark Mairen knows this. In her village, the border between the fae and human worlds is as thin as a whisper, and fae trickery is nothing new.

But Lark’s brother, Galin, has just disappeared into the fae realm while racing in the deadly Wild Hunt, and Lark’s only lead is a mysterious fae boy called Rook.

To save her brother, she’ll have to trust Rook—even if it takes her into the dangerous fae kingdom, where she’ll untangle riddles, navigate labyrinths, and face the wicked king himself.

From the author of The Last Windwitch, Lark and the Wild Hunt is the perfect blend of classic folklore and new twists, with a protagonist who will show readers that failure is nothing to fear—and resilience, bravery, and friendship can overcome even the most daunting adversaries.

*Review Contributed by Connie Reid, Staff Reviewer*

 

Very charming dip into fantasy for Middle-Grade

 

What I Liked: One of my favorite genres is a fantasy involving the fae, and this book is great for middle-grade audiences that may not be familiar with their magically tricky ways. Lark’s family lives on the border with the fae realm. Lark’s family is renowned for breading shadowbred horses that are a part magical and part regular horse. Twice a year humans run the gauntlet using her family’s horses to earn a position on the wild hunt with the Harvest King helping reinforce the magical border and chase dangerous wildkin back to the fae realm. At the end of the hunt, each human participant is granted a faevor.
This story begins with a wild hunt gone wrong. Brambles came up from the ground and the Harvest King fell. Something fell out of his pocket and Lark retrieved it. At the end of the hunt her brother, Galin did not return and the fae are quiet about why the harvest king couldn’t attend the faevoring ceremony.
Soon after, Lark befriends an injured crow and meets a fae boy she calls Rook. He is bound not to speak ill of the fae so she must observe and make conclusions on her own based on what he can tell her. She is sworn to secrecy and given the task to repair the Moon clock. This story then preceded a bit differently than I expected. I figured she would quickly repair the Moon clock and traipse off to the fae realm to save the day.
The author took a lot of care to build Lark’s world and her place in the family and community. Since she didn’t know how to repair the Moon clock it took time for her to learn from the clock master in town. Since she was keeping it a secret, she still had her chores around the house and her place in the family business of raising the shadowbreds. We had the time to feel her frustration and worry for her brother as she notices the magic becoming unsettled and the faevors breaking without knowing what was happening in the fae realm. Her love and worry for Galin is such a large part of the story that it is like we know him as a brother as well even though we don’t meet him till the end.
Final verdict: This organic approach to Lark’s knowledge establishes a very solid world for the plot to unfold. It does move a bit slow in places but once she does make it over to the fae realm she is much more prepared to succeed. Rook teaches Lark how to protect herself from enchantments and she is able to use that in her interactions with the fae. This is a very charming dip into fantasy for middle-grade students that may be new to the common elements found in stories involving the fae. A good precursor for those that will go on to read books like Holly Black’s when they are teens.

 

*Find More Info & Buy This Book Here*

Featured Review: The Darkening (Sunya Mara)

July 5th, 2022 by

 

 

About this Book:

In this thrilling and epic YA fantasy debut the only hope for a city trapped in the eye of a cursed storm lies with the daughter of failed revolutionaries and a prince terrified of his throne. Vesper Vale is the daughter of revolutionaries. Failed revolutionaries. When her mother was caught by the queen’s soldiers, they gave her a choice: death by the hangman’s axe, or death by the Storm that surrounds the city and curses anyone it touches. She chose the Storm. And when the queen’s soldiers—led by a paranoid prince—catch up to Vesper’s father after twelve years on the run, Vesper will do whatever it takes to save him from sharing that fate. Even arm herself with her father’s book of dangerous experimental magic. Even infiltrate the prince’s elite squad of soldier-sorcerers. Even cheat her way into his cold heart. But when Vesper learns that there’s more to the story of her mother’s death, she’ll have to make a choice if she wants to save her city: trust the devious prince with her family’s secrets, or follow her mother’s footsteps into the Storm.

 

 

*Review Contributed by Connie Reid, Site Manager*

What I Loved: Vesper Vale has grown up in the slums of the fifth ring of the city under constant threat that the supernatural storm surrounding the city will come crashing down on all she loves at any time. She grew up feeling inadequate under the stories of her parents’ attempt to overthrow the Regia and bring greater equality to those on the edge of the storm. Her brave mother was caught and chose to enter the storm rather than face execution. Her Pa has been in hiding with her for 12 years.
When she tries to be brave like her parents during a storm, she is left homeless with nearly everyone she knows dead. Taking things from bad to worse, as soon as her Pa uses ikonomancy to save her, Prince Dalca and his brute friends Casvian and Izamal are alerted to his hiding place and soon have him in custody.
She works her way into the palace as an apprentice for Casvian to find out where her Pa is and free him before his trial. She does not expect to make friends with Izamal or see that Dalca is a noble Prince put in an impossible responsibility to save the city. Her tentative friendship and trust in Dalca could save them all or just be one more mistake in a long chain of bad decisions.
She keeps her heart open and vulnerable during terrible trials that others around her don’t all pass. For her ability to accept all parts of herself she is given a terrible curse from a forgotten queen. However, she now has the power to save everyone. It only costs her everything she has left to give.
It was endearing to see Casvian’s character growth during the trials they faced. I was surprised at the fate of Izamal and the depth of his pain and hatred for those who held him as a friend. Vesper’s humanity may save them all and it will be exciting in the next book to see if they can save her. Dalca has a lot of pain to work through and decisions to face. Now that the storm has lifted there are many left weird and twisted from feeling the storm’s touch. So far, they have been shunned and are pitied. I wonder if they can find peace and recovery with her new ability and Dalca coming into power.
Final Verdict: For fans of Nightrender by Jodie Meadows and Ruined by Amy Tintera this fast-paced fantasy will feel like a nice mix of the two. It has a slow-burn romance of people brought together from two walks of life. It has betrayal and redemption and a bit of magic to keep you turning the pages without stopping. I look forward to the sequel.

 

 

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*

Kid Review: Little Houses by Kevin Henkes

July 4th, 2022 by

 

About This Book:

 

From award-winning and bestselling author Kevin Henkes and the acclaimed painter Laura Dronzek, Little Houses is an unforgettable masterpiece about nature, family, wonder, and the ocean. The lyrical writing and stunning paintings make this a great choice for family sharing and for story times all year round.
When a young girl visits her grandparents at the beach, she stays in a little house and walks along the shore gathering seashells—which were once little houses of their own. As she wanders the beach, she wonders about the creatures who used to live in each shell, about the hidden treasures of the sea, and about the mysteries of the world. 

Kevin Henkes’s text features striking imagery, depth of emotion, and a lovely multigenerational relationship. He deftly captures the feeling of wonder and imagination that is fostered by a trip to the shore. Laura Dronzek’s lush, saturated paintings make this book a true treasure for parents and children, and a must-have for the classroom.

*Review Contributed by Olivia Farr, Staff Reviewer*

 

engaging picture book about the beach/ocean

 

LITTLE HOUSES is a pensive and poetic picture book about family and the majesty of the ocean. A young girl is spending time with her grandparents at the beach. She is gathering seashells with them and realizes that they are like little houses for the animals who had lived in them. She considers the ocean and how little she knows about it. At the end of the day, she brings the seashells into her room and considers how they are houses in a house, connecting the world.

What I loved: This is a really thoughtful story that encourages children to consider the world around them. The magic of the beach and the ocean comes to life through the eyes of the young girl. The lush and colorful sketch-like illustrations bring the majesty and whimsy of it all to life. The connections the young girl has with her grandparents is apparent as she spends time with each along the beach. Children will connect with the story and view the beach in a new way amidst the poetic language and thoughtful words.

The text is large and easy to read aloud. The relative brevity of words on each page makes the pages turn as quickly as young readers would like and makes this a great pick for toddlers and preschoolers.

Final verdict: A lyrical picture book about the magic of the beach and ocean, LITTLE HOUSES is a pensive and thought-provoking read that will appeal to young readers.

 

*Find More Info & Buy This Book Here*

Middle-Grade Review: Lena, the Sea, and Me by Maria Parr

July 4th, 2022 by

 

About This Book:

 

In a charming sequel to Adventures with Waffles,Trille and Lena navigate the rough waters of friendship when a new soccer coach and a new girl in school disrupt their seaside escapades.

 

Trille and Lena may be getting older, but they still find everyday adventure—and trouble—in their coastal village, including sinking every raft they build, getting little sisters stuck up flag poles, and attending those dreaded music lessons. But that’s not all. The arrival of a less-than-encouraging new soccer coach is putting twelve-year-old Lena’s goalkeeping career in doubt. And Trille is wondering how to impress the girl who has just joined his class. As the best friends battle the elements and their own emotions, one thing is for sure: they’re not giving up, not if Lena has anything to do with it! In Maria Parr’s follow-up to Adventures with Waffles,the acclaimed author returns to Mathildewick Cove with a rib-tickling story of growing up.

 

*Review Contributed by Karen Yingling, Stafff Reviewer*

 

More Norwegian Escapades

 

Trille and his best friend Lena are back after their Adventures with Waffles. Lena has just come back from vacation on Crete, and the two are making plans for the rest of their summer. Of course, there is a lot of sailing, sometimes with Trille’s grandfather, who is a fisherman. There’s also dreaded piano lessons, which neither of them enjoy, but which Trille is trying to pay attention to because he thinks his piano skills might impress fellow student Birgit, who is from the Netherlands. Trille and Lena also played soccer together in the past, but a new coach has made the experience less fun for Trille, and he drops out. He spends a lot of time hanging out with Birgit, hiking the hills around their coastal town of Mathildewick Cove. Trille’s mother has been cranky and gaining weight, and Lena (who is very forthright in everything she does) informs him that his mother is going through menopause. Concerned, Trille talks to his mother and encourages her to go to the doctor. When she does, she finds out that she is pregnant with her fifth child! Trille wants to make his mother happy, but also wants to stay friends with Lena, who is always involved in some questionable stunt like stringing Trille’s younger sister Krolla up in a tree (ala Lindgren’s Emil and the Great Escape) or going Christmas caroling in the middle of a storm. Luckily, the community is supportive, and helps out when Lena gets her friends in a jam.

Good Points
This was an interesting look at daily life in a Norwegian fishing community, and the scenes and goings on are described in such a way that I could see Trille’s adventures in my mind’s eye… although they appeared as they would have should Maj Lindman (of the Swedish Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka books) have illustrated them. Trille’s family runs a farm, and while their life is hectic, it is also very stable. Lena, who is a force of nature akin to Pippi Longstocking, has a very young mother and a very new stepfather who is a doctor.

The really interesting part of this book was Trille and Lena’s evolving friendship. Friendships are so key to middle grade readers, and it’s interesting to see the two as they investigate their own separate identities. Lena isn’t a fan of music, but Trille feels more drawn to the piano. He also doesn’t feel the same way about soccer as avid player Lena does. They still have plenty in common, but they are apart enough that Trille starts to worry about their friendship. The way that Lena is the most central character, but is seen through Trille’s eyes, reminded me a bit of the way we see Spinelli’s Stargirl through the eyes of Leo.

I haven’t seen a lot of titles translated from Nordic languages, but I’m always interested in seeing how people live in different parts of the world. This is somewhat similar to Rose Lagercrantz’s My Happy Life (which is set in Sweden) series, and would definitely be a great book to hand to a reader who has met and adores Astrid Lindgren’s classic works.

*Find More Info & Buy This Book Here*

Featured Review: Duplex (Orson Scott Card)

July 4th, 2022 by

 

About This Book:

Ryan wakes up to find his contractor dad building walls to turn their big old house into a duplex. The family that moves into the other side includes Bizzy Horvat, the pretty girl he has a crush on at school. Bizzy claims her mother is a witch with the power to curse people with clumsiness or, in Bizzy’s case, astonishing beauty.

When a bee gets caught in Bizzy’s hair, Ryan acts so quickly and radically to save her from getting stung that he attracts the attention of a group of micropotents — people with micropowers. He soon realizes that Bizzy and her mother also have such powers. It becomes Ryan’s job, with the help of the other micropotents, to protect the Horvats from a group of witch hunters from their native country, who are determined to kill Bizzy, her mother, and all the other ”witches” — micropotents — who have gathered to protect them.

 

 

*Review Contributed by Mark Buxton, Staff Reviewer*

What worked:
The supernatural element of the plot is slowly sprinkled into the plot until it becomes a major conflict. Some characters have micropowers and they form a support group of micropotents to learn about their abilities. The unexpected twist is the powers are relatively useless but they are special abilities none-the-less. Making others yawn and being aware of the presence of spiders aren’t particularly useful in most situations. Bizzy is able to make herself stunningly beautiful, and Ryan can instantly react to situations perfectly. The micropowers aren’t remarkable but they’re enough to make the micropotents targets for witch hunters and create the main conflict of the plot.
Ryan is the fifteen-year-old main character, and he’s a dynamic young man. In the beginning, he seems to be a sassy, angry teenager due to his parents’ failed marriage. He’s actually very intelligent, caring, and has a high moral character. Ryan deeply misses his father living at home and he wants to earn his trust and respect. He strives to prove his maturity by becoming more responsible, and his efforts become part of his everyday behavior. His micropower causes him to do things he regrets, and this humility reflects his inherent kindness and heart. He does what needs to be done but it doesn’t mean he needs to like it.
Several types of interpersonal relationships are blended into the overall plot. Ryan and Bizzy explore becoming boyfriend/girlfriend and consider what that actually means. Bizzy’s beauty makes her skeptical of Ryan’s intentions, and Ryan’s never been with a girl that’s way out of his league. Ryan struggles with Defense’s pranking behavior and his newfound maturity makes it harder to tolerate the harm Defense is causing. Ryan’s parents are going through a nasty separation and the kids are stuck in the middle. Ryan and his sister feel anger toward the situation, and their mother is especially malicious toward the father. It’s not until later in the story that the kids discover the root of the problem.
What didn’t work as well:
The dialogue includes playful banter between Bizzy, Ryan, and his best friend Defense that sometimes lasts longer than necessary. The exchanges are usually entertaining and help to describe relationships, but their duration stalls the momentum of the plot.
The Final Verdict:
There’s power in working together. It’s a novel concept to endow characters with powers that aren’t especially useful, but it makes them underdogs readers can cheer for. The numerous levels of personal problems maintain interest throughout, and the main conflict builds to a suspenseful climax. I recommend you give this book a shot.

 

 

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*

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