Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.
But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.
Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.
So why do I want to read this?
Circus books always catch my eye, but a high fantasy circus book? Now that’s something that hooks me in.
What hooks me in even more is the prospect of Sorina and her illusions–I’m intrigued by the idea of a murder mystery for somebody that doesn’t technically exist! It’s such an original idea, and I’m excited to see how Amanda Foody executes it.
Plus, it looks like there’s lots of LGBTQ+ rep in Daughter of the Burning City! Sorina is bisexual, and Luca (apparently one of the other main characters) is demiromantic and asexual! I’m always up for casual queer representation in non-realistic-fiction settings, and I’m so excited to see how this one turns out!
I’ve seen lists like this floating around on some bookish Reels on Instagram, and I figured that I wanted to make a list of my own for the blogosphere.
What I mean by “undercover” is this: if you’re a closeted reader and you’re in a homophobic space/community, you can read these books without anyone else knowing that you’re LGBTQ+, but you can still get the LGBTQ+ rep that you want to see. These are books that have great queer representation, but aren’t explicitly queer from the cover or synopsis. That way, if you’re in an unsupportive/homophobic space, you can still seek out good LGBTQ+ books without outing yourself. These are mostly YA books, but we’ve got several genres in the mix. I know I’m lucky to have supportive family and friends, but it sadly isn’t the reality for all queer people, so I thought I’d provide this list for others in that situation.
And as always, never forget: you are loved, you are valid, you are beautiful, and nobody has any say in your identity except for you. 💗
I got this one as an eARC last year, and it was such a fun fantasy! Dani, one of two POV protagonists, is bisexual as well as mixed-race (white/Latine), and frankly, there’s not much better than queer girls and dragons, so this one’s a must-read.
There’s no shortage of great LGBTQ+ rep in this novel – Diz is queer, her love interest is nonbinary (as well as the author!), and there’s several wlw and mlm couples interspersed throughout. I’ll always recommend this one for fans of both sci-fi and fantasy – it’s a great blend of the two genres!
This one’s sure to please all the YA space opera fans – lots of strange aliens, sudden powers, and intergalactic battles. There’s no shortage of good queer rep in this one – Tina is bi/pan, her love interest is a Black trans woman, and there’s a wide variety of pronouns used for the many (MANY) characters!
I don’t use masterpiece lightly, but On a Sunbeam absolutely is one. With simplistic but stunning artwork and a multiracial wlw relationship told in alternating timelines, there’s no excuse to pass this one by.
None of Sarah Maria Griffin’s books are talked about enough – Other Words for Smoke is hauntingly beautiful and well-written in every sense of the word. There’s a lesbian relationship in this one, and it’s unrelentingly feminist as well.
I highly recommend anything of Anna-Marie McLemore’s – their novels always have the most gorgeous prose, combined with fairytale-like fantasies and Latine culture and mythology. Their books always include queer characters, but this one in particular features an entire cast of queer sisters and a genderqueer love interest!
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Did you like any of these books?Do you have any undercover LGBTQ+ recommendations? Tell me in the comments!
That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Good morning (or whatever time it is where you are), bibliophiles!
I’m back from vacation! I took a trip with my family to Glacier National Park last week, and it was STUNNING. We did some hiking, went on a few boat tours, and went canoeing, and it was such a beautiful experience. Walking through the forest fed my soul…I’m recovering from online learning crushing my soul last year, and the trees certainly helped
Anyway, I bought a few books on my Kindle for the trip, and I thought I’d share my reviews for them. It was definitely a hit-or-miss batch, but at least 2/3 of them were good.
In an all-too-plausible future where corporate conglomerates have left the world’s governments in shambles, anyone with means has left the polluted Earth for the promise of a better life on a SpaceTech owned colony among the stars.
Maité Martinez is the daughter of an Earther Latina and a powerful Aunare man, an alien race that SpaceTech sees as a threat to their dominion. When tensions turn violent, Maité finds herself trapped on Earth and forced into hiding.
For over ten years, Maité has stayed hidden, but every minute Maité stays on Earth is one closer to getting caught.
She’s lived on the streets. Gone hungry. And found a way to fight through it all. But one night, while waitressing in a greasy diner, a customer gets handsy with her. She reacts without thinking.
Covered in blood, Maité runs, but it’s not long before SpaceTech finds her…
Arrested and forced into dangerous work detail on a volcano planet, Maité waits for SpaceTech to make their move against the Aunare. She knows that if she can’t somehow find a way to stop them, there will be an interstellar war big enough to end all life in the universe.
There’s only one question: Can Maité prevent the total annihilation of humanity without getting herself killed in the process?
Off Planet wasn’t perfect, but it was a solid sci-fi! It blended elements of hard sci-fi and space opera, and for the most part, they came together somewhat seamlessly.
The plot and tension shone in this novel – Aileen Erin did a great job at making a fast-paced, high-stakes story that kept me on the edge of my seat. The worldbuilding was well fleshed-out as well. I loved all of the different planets that we saw, as well as the near-future, dystopian vision of Earth.
I didn’t get attached to any of the characters, but I’d say they were decently developed. Most of them were likable, but I did like Tyler a lot. I wish we’d seen more of him. However, even though I liked Lorne, his name threw me off a little, because a) hey, it’s more of a human name, and he’s an alien, and b) my inevitable association of that name with Lorne Malvo from Fargo, which…[shudders]
My only major problem was the dialogue – it felt a little stilted and not quite authentic, which took away some of the believability of the characters. Other than mannerisms, there wasn’t a whole lot that distinguished each character’s voice.
But overall, a solid start to an intense and well-thought-out sci-fi trilogy. 3.5 stars!
In the bloody revolution, gods were all but wiped out. Ever since, the children they left behind have been imprisoned in an orphanage, watched day and night by the ruthless Guard. Any who show signs of divine power vanish from their beds in the night, all knowledge of their existence denied.
No one has ever escaped the orphanage.
Seventeen-year-old Hero is finally free – but at a terrible price. Her sister has been captured by the Guard and is being held in a prison in the northern sea. Hero desperately wants to get her back, and to escape the murderous Guardsmen hunting her down. But not all the gods are dead, and the ones waiting for Hero in the north have their own plans for her – ones that will change the world forever . . .
As she advances further and further into the unknown, Hero will need to decide: how far is she willing to go to do what needs to be done?
TW/CW: graphic violence, discrimination, death, blood, gore
I really wanted to give this one a chance – the low average rating on Goodreads put me off a little (2.88 at present), but there didn’t seem to anything blatantly offensive in the reviews I read, so I gave it a shot.
…which was a mistake on my part. Oops.
The Orphanage of Gods had an interesting premise on the surface, but it was weighed down by a whole bunch of aspects. The worldbuilding was flimsy at best, the plot seemed to ramble without meaning, the characters didn’t have many defining traits (and there were too many of them to keep track of, making them interchangeable), and the POV switches at each of the three parts didn’t seem to have any point. If Coggan had kept the POV at Hero for the whole book, it might have made more sense, as she was unfamiliar with the world introduced. But alas…
I tried. I really tried. I wanted to give this one three stars, but it just got worse and worse as the book went on…I think the only redeeming factor was that there was a sapphic romance at the forefront, but even that was just thrown in there at the last minute. The writing had moments of being good, and I think that’s the only reason I didn’t DNF this one entirely.
All in all, a novel weighed down by poor handling of almost every aspect save for the writing. 2 stars.
The city of Parole is burning. Like Venice slips into the sea, Parole crumbles into fire.
The entire population inside has been quarantined and left to die – directly over the open flame. Eye in the Sky, a deadly and merciless police force ensures no one escapes. Ever. All that’s keeping Parole alive is faith in the midst of horrors and death, trust in the face of desperation… and their fantastic, terrifying, and beautiful superhuman abilities.
Regan, silent, scaly stealth expert, is haunted by ten years of anxiety, trauma and terror, and he’s finally reached his limit. Evelyn is a fearless force on stage and sonic-superheroic revolutionary on the streets. Now they have a choice – and a chance to not only escape from Parole, but unravel the mystery deep in its burning heart. And most of all, discover the truth about their own entwining pasts.
Parole’s a rough place to live. But they’re not dead yet. If they can survive the imminent cataclysmic disaster, they might just stay that way…
TW/CW: violence, PTSD, loss of loved ones, fire, anxiety, torture, trauma
This is just the kind of sweet, diverse and hopeful dystopia that the world needs more of. Chameleon Moon wasn’t without its flaws, sure, but it was such a lovely novel.
First off, this is easily one of the most diverse novels I’ve read in a long time – we’ve got a polyamorous family at front and center, an asexual MC, a trans woman MC, several nonbinary characters, several Black characters, and several characters with anxiety and PTSD. So a big thank you to RoAnna Sylver for making an effort to make a novel with all that representation!
The characters were the best aspect of the novel for me – they all had such distinct personalities and quirks, and I loved all of the different superpowers they sported. Danae was easily my favorite – I loved all of her little metal creations, and she had such a spirited personality. (Kind of imagined her like Jessie Buckley, for no particular reason.) Hans was also great – he reminded me a lot of Klaus from The Umbrella Academy, if he were a bit more unhinged.
What was really special about Chameleon Moon for me, though, was that even though it was clearly a dystopia, there was a consistent message of hope. Even in the midst of unimaginable horrors, there was still love, still families caring for each other, still listening to everybody’s traumas, and still persisting no matter the odds. It’s an uncommon sight in dystopia, and in times like these, it’s just the kind of novel we need.
All in all, a queer and hopeful dystopia that sets itself apart with no shortage of representation and a powerful message. 4 stars!
That’s it for these mini-reviews! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Now that we’re in the month of June, I’m so excited to share more queer YA books. I did a whole series last year of LGBTQ+ books in various genres, so I was struggling to think of something new for this year. So I’ve decided to compile my favorite queer books that I read between last pride month and now. (There’s a whole lot of good ones!)
But as with all kinds of posts like these, it’s important to remember that we must uplift marginalized voices in literature 365 days a year.
If you want to check them out, here are my pride month recs from last year:
LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Two of the MCs are sapphic, wlw relationship, third MC is aromantic/asexual
MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
This one wasn’t without its flaws, but I loved this blend of sci-fi and fantasy! There’s also an especially beautiful scene where Nathaniel (aroace character) discovers his sexuality, and although I’m not aspec myself, I’m sure this will touch the hearts of so many ace readers.
Here’s another feel-good queer fantasy – this one’s a graphic novel! Besides the fact that there’s nothing better than witches and werewolves having soft relationships, it’s so cool to see a disabled queer character like Nova! (She’s hard of hearing, and there’s several discussions about her hearing aids.)
I don’t usually jump for contemporary, but this was SUCH A DELIGHT. Not only is it an enemies-to-lovers, multiracial sapphic romance, there’s some really important discussions about homophobia and cultural appropriation.
LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Gay MC, lesbian and trans side characters
MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A beautiful, coming-of-age novel in verse about a mixed-race teen realizing his sexuality and discovering himself through drag. I don’t read a whole lot of novels in verse, but this is one you absolutely have to read!
Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles! Hope you’re all doing okay. I’m finally having a little peace after this awful school year…I still have one more day left, BUT I’M FINALLY DONE WITH PRECALC! MY SOUL IS NO LONGER BEING ACTIVELY CRUSHED!
This book was been on my TBR since the dawn of time, added soon after I finished Bowman’s debut, Starfish. I finally got around to picking it up at the library recently, and I’m so glad I did! An immensely powerful portrait of sisterhood, grief, and music.
Music is everything to sisters Rumi and Lea, who write songs together based on spur-of-the-moment wordplay. But when Lea is killed in a car crash, Rumi’s life is upended completely. In a fit of grief, her mother sends her to Hawaii to live with her aunt, hoping that there, she’ll be able to process her emotions.
Instead, Rumi finds herself even more depressed than before, grappling with the absence of Lea and the waning of her creativity. But with the help of a few unexpected neighbors, Rumi begins to realize that her love of music – and the people around her – are the key to overcoming her great loss.
TW/CW: car crash, death, loss of loved one (sibling), panic attacks, near-death experiences (drowning)
It’s been years since I read Starfish, but what I remembered most was the powerful gut feeling it stirred up in me. But reading Summer Bird Blue made me realize what a profound talent that Akemi Dawn Bowman has, and it’s proof that sometimes, books don’t just make you feel ordinary emotion. Sometimes they make you feel raw emotion right down to your core.
Fair warning: Summer Bird Blue is one of those books that you should probably be in a good and stable place mentally before reading. I probably couldn’t have read it myself at certain (recent) points in my life, so I’m glad I read it when I did. It’s heavy: it’ll make you hurt, it’ll make you feel low, but that’s exactly what grieving feels like. The best part of this novel may be how Bowman handles grief; it’s something that holds you in its jaws and won’t let go until it’s had its fill of you. Rumi’s struggles with coping with her younger sister’s death felt all too real, from the physical symptoms to the creeping self doubt about relationships with the deceased. It’s unflinching and it doesn’t hold back, but that completes the picture of not just Rumi’s grief, but the grief of so many others.
What also stood out to me was how well-executed Rumi was as a flawed character. Even though she’s lost her sister, you don’t feel 100% sympathetic for her – she’s selfish at time, has a tendency to lash out at those she loves, and is more than a bit lacking in the apologizing department. But having Rumi be a less-than-perfect person is part of what made her and her journey all the more authentic. She feels real, fleshed-out. And her representation is also great – not only is she biracial, but she’s aromantic-asexual as well! I don’t see a whole lot of asexuality represented in YA literature (though I’m steadily seeing it increasing), so it’s great to have characters like Rumi out there.
Rumi’s personal journey was nothing short of beautiful – character development at its finest. She experiments, she makes bad decisions, she tries new things, but ultimately discovers the healing power of creativity. For her, music was intrinsically tied to her sister, but creativity was, along with her newfound relationships, was what brought her out of the darkness. And I think that’s just lovely. We love our passions dearly, but we always underestimate their power to truly save us, and that’s what makes our passions our passions.
All in all, a raw and beautiful exploration of grief and healing 4 stars!
Summer Bird Blue is a standalone, but Akemi Dawn Bowman is also the author of Starfish, Harley in the Sky, and The Infinity Courts; the first two are standalone novels, but The Infinity Courts is a trilogy, with the last two books slated for release in 2022 and 2023, respectively.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles, and happy December! I’m so glad that 2020’s almost over…and it definitely feels like December where I am! There’s been snow falling for a good hour or so, and it looks fittingly wintry outside my window.
And I won this year’s NaNoWriMo yesterday! 35,051 of my goal of 35,000! [pats self on the back]
Well, now then, I guess I should get to the review now, right?
This one is another 2020 release (August 18), and I forget exactly how it came on my radar, but I decided to put it on hold because I wanted a nice feminist book in my life. And…well, the good intentions were all there and the representation’s great, but much of the book ended up being a mess, unfortunately.
Raina and Millie have rarely spoken to each other, but they both have one thing in common–a promising senior year that got derailed. For Raina, it’s her boyfriend not only dumping her, but cheating on her, and being ousted as co-president of the Drama Club. For Millie, it’s her being voted out of the all-boys Mock Trial team, and her controlling father growing worse by the day.
After she writes to a romance advice columnist, Raina finds new solace in a knitting circle who specializes in political activism, and soon, she, Millie, and four other girls united to dismantle the patriarchy of their school, piece by piece.
My expectations were average for Six Angry Girls, what with being in the midst of a reading slump that I’ve just now managed to emerge from, but I’m sad to say that this novel only stretched the slump out longer.
Let’s start with what I liked, because I should be at least a little positive here. And there were a few things I did like about this book. The cast of Six Angry Girls is a lot more diverse than most contemporary feminist YA I’ve come across–in the main cast of six, we have several sapphic characters (including Millie), a sapphic asexual character, two POC characters, and a trans character who uses both she/her and they/them pronouns. So props to Kisner for including lots of authentic and casual representation! (Plus, I don’t think I’ve seen any characters–if any at all–who use multiple pronouns, like Izzy does, so that’s always a win!) Kisner also handled the subject of Millie’s abusive father well; those parts were certainly hard to read, but they were handled with aplomb and felt (disturbingly) authentic.
Unfortunately, it all went downhill from here…
First off, let’s talk about the writing. My main issue is that none of the teenagers read like authentic teenagers, and it mainly came down to the dialogue. Other than “I’m” and “I’ve,” there were almost no contractions to be found. Anywhere. As a result, the dialogue felt clunky and inauthentic. Additionally, many of the plot points that were built up for most of the books were rushed, and events that had been alluded to for a good chunk of the book were resolved in two pages or left, so I often found myself lost and thinking “wait, that already happened? That quickly?”
There’s also the issue of a main cast of six. Normally, I’m all for casts of this size–IF every single character is used equally. Millie and Raina were the only characters who narrated, but other than Grace, most of the characters were just…there. Izzy, Veronica, and Nikita didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose, other than diversity and positions in the mock trials. We had zero character development for any of them, and we have only the faintest idea of their personalities. Grace has slightly more of a purpose, at least, but I think that’s in part because she was in a relationship with Millie by the 75% mark.
But my main criticism of Six Angry Girls comes down to the depiction of feminism. I LOVE how Kisner tried to portray all of the feminism, patriarchy-smashing, and nonviolent protesting, but it all seemed…somewhat shallow. There were a variety of issues covered (sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc.), but neither of them were discussed beyond the surface level, giving it an almost shallow appearance. The mock trial and knitting plots felt loosely tied together, and almost entirely unrelated, and I found myself wondering why the two plots existed. Raina’s and Millie’s stories could have frankly worked as two separate books, and that would have made for a lot less confusion.
And the motives behind most everything seemed to be revenge, which I really didn’t like as it related to feminism. For me, feminism is about seeing injustices and inequality within a community, and fighting back against it. Sure, some of it is about getting back at the oppressor, but ultimately, it’s about creating an equal playing field. In Six Angry Girls, most of the motivations behind all of the plot points were centered around revenge–against Brandon (Raina’s cheating ex), against the Drama Club, and against the Mock Trial team. I’m sure Kisner’s intentions were good, but having the feminist aspects of the book being portrayed as more of a revenge plot than anything else didn’t sit well with me.
All in all, a light and diverse feminist YA that suffered from stilted dialogue, characters without purposes, and a depiction of feminism that was full of holes. 2.5 stars.
Six Angry Girls is a standalone, but Adrienne Kisner is also the author of two other novels, Dear Rachel Maddow and The Confusion of Laurel Graham.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
I’m so glad that we have a snow day…I was trying to find a good day to fit this post in, and now we have the perfect opportunity!
As some of you know, this week, October 25-31, is Asexual Awareness Week, or Ace Week for short! The whole week is meant to celebrate everyone on the asexual spectrum (asexual, aromantic, demisexual, and more) and spread awareness about the community. All too often, this community is unjustly discriminated against, even in LGBTQ+ spaces, which never fails to break my heart. Well, if I haven’t made myself clear enough, I’ll just go out here and say that everybody on the asexual spectrum is so loved, so valid, and so beautiful!
So for the occasion, I decided to compile a list of YA books with characters all over the asexual spectrum–among them on this list are characters who are asexual, demisexual, aromantic, and more. Thing is, SHAME ON ME FOR NOT READING ENOUGH ASPEC LITERATURE. I try my best to, and I found some examples, but not enough ones that I’ve actually read to make a substantial list. So, the first half of this post is ace books that I’ve read, and the other half is ace books that are on my TBR.
Let’s begin, shall we?
THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA READS FOR ASEXUAL AWARENESS WEEK
I’m so lucky to have gotten an eARC of this one over the summer. Besides having great asexual representation, the author is Lipan Apache, and so is Elatsoe! A wonderful paranormal murder mystery with lots of lovely ghost critters.
REPRESENTATION: Zoey (one of three protagonists with alternating POVs) is asexual
MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Another five-star read of mine this year. There’s no shortage of great LGBTQ+ representation from this one; beyond Zoey’s asexuality, and the other two protagonists (Val and Marion) end up being in a wlw relationship.
REPRESENTATION: Nathaniel (one of two protagonists with alternating POVs) is aromantic/asexual
MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
Another lovely sci-fi with a bluish purple color scheme on the cover! There’s a beautiful scene where Nathaniel discovers his identity, and it’s so tenderly beautiful. Plus, there’s a wlw relationship between the other protagonist (Anna) and another secondary character as well!
REPRESENTATION: Luca (secondary character who is supposed to play a major role) is demiromantic/asexual
I put this on my TBR over the summer and completely forgot about it, so hopefully I can read it soon…
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these novels? What are your thoughts? Any other books with ace rep that you recommend?
Oh, and one more thing: I just found out a few hours ago that today is also Intersex Awareness Day! I hardly see any intersex rep in literature, so if any of you have good intersex book recs, don’t hesitate to tell me about them in the comments!
This week has been…well…slightly better than the last, at least? That really isn’t saying much, but it’s gotten the tiniest bit better. Definitely overwhelming and stressful school-wise (@ junior year please stop throwing me off a cliff), but I’m (mostly) over the hump now. I had quizzes in my two hardest classes, so that was no fun.
Other than that, it’s been alright. I’m slowly crawling out of the pit that was last week, but I’ve still been feeling a bit low. I read quite a lot of good books, though, so at least there’s that. I caught up on/rewatched the newest episode of Fargo (no spoilers, but…[AGONIZED SCREAMING]), got a bunch of new books at the library (finally have The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes on my hands!), watched the original Frankenstein again (gotta love how Henry just straight-up admits to grave robbing), and had some birthday festivities for my family. Halloween season always cheers me up, if nothing else, so through all this general bleh-ness, at least we have pumpkins all over the house, a bowl of candy corns, and crunchy leaves on the ground. (Well…crunchy leaves covered in snow, as of this morning.)
I’m…pretty much finished with my outline for NaNoWriMo? I’m itching to get writing again, so I only have one week left to wait…
And today (October 25) marks the beginning of Ace Week! So expect a compilation of books with characters on the asexual spectrum sometime this week.
Oh, and I just witnessed a squirrel on my balcony abscond with a stale bagel…
Ladies, gentlemen and others, welcome to Colorado.
I hope you’re all having a good day. I had a lovely hike yesterday, and just a spectacular day in general…and I FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF MY WIP.
I FINISHED MY FIRST DRAFT! THIS IS THE FIRST OF MY IDEAS THAT I’VE ACTUALLY BOTHERED TO WRITE OUT IN FULL!
So that was certainly a bright spot.
Now, back to our scheduled program…
I found this book on Queer Books for Teens, and the fact that it was a) sci-fi and b) had great LGBTQ+ representation ultimately hooked me. I quickly found it on the Kindle library and read it. But while it boasted great representation, Fourth World failed to meet its ambitious premise.
2073. Isaak Contreras struggles to go through the motions of his life on a Martian colony. Two years ago, his father disappeared, leaving him to long for him back in his life. But when he finds an artifact hidden among his father’s old possessions, he stumbles upon a conspiracy hidden by the Martian government–one that may answer the question of the humanoid skeleton that the archaeology team dug up on Martian soldier. What they’ve hidden? A portal to another world, and one that may not be as alien as they believe it to be.
Now stranded in this foreign, dystopian world, Isaak is taken in by Nadin, a girl struggling with an oppressive society of her own. But what they both don’t realize is that the ground beneath their feet is not so different as they thought. Will they be able to save both of their worlds?
Let’s start off with the good aspects. Our cast of characters is incredibly diverse–virtually all of the characters are POC (Isaak is Latinx, Nadin is POC, and several other POC side characters). Additionally, Isaak is demisexual, and Nadin seems to be on the asexual spectrum. So props to Chiavari for creating a wonderfully diverse cast!
Now…other than that…
The main problem of Fourth World is that it seemed to get lost within itself. The plot became very convoluted far too quickly, and I found myself losing interest rapidly. There’s an interesting, almost cosmic-horror aspect of it (Remember what I said about the humanoid skeleton they dig up?) that was well-executed at the start, but failed to capture my attention as the book went on.
The concept of a past civilization on Mars is fascinating, but I found it poorly executed. There’s so much possibility for these kinds of societies, but alas, it fell into the trap that all too many sci-fi YA novels fall into…
Ah, yes, Aliens™️, but…they’re basically just humans with different hair/eye colors. NOT AGAIN…
[Luke Skywalker screaming] “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
And beyond that, this past civilization is the exact same, overdone, dystopian society. You’ve got your oppressive class systems, your tyrannical government, and your secret, underground resistance, and the realization to our naïve heroine that the world she’s grown up in is far worse than she imagined. At this point, the trope has become so overdone that it doesn’t get any emotion out of me anymore. Sometimes, it can creatively done, but in the case of Fourth World, it…just wasn’t. Nope.
Overall, Fourth World was an ambitious sci-fi novel, but while it scored points in the diversity department, it crumbled to pieces in most other places. 2 stars.
Fourth World is the first in the Iamos trilogy, followed by New World (book 2, 2018), and One World (book 3, 2020).
Okay, Danny Elfman, I love you, but the fact that you decided not to release this is a crime. A CRIME.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
As far as LGBTQ+ YA literature goes, contemporary is the genre where such representation is most common, I think. Contemporary novels were where many people were first introduced to LGBTQ+ themes and issues, and as a genre that sticks to the more realistic side of things, it’s a straightforward vehicle for representation.
But with such a plethora of books, there’s a wider variety. So, I tried to compile some of my favorites from this genre, and the ones that stood out the most in the genre.
LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: protagonist is nonbinary (they/them), nonbinary side character
MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A heartrwenching and poignant novel. Ben’s journey to realizing their identity as a nonbinary person is beautiful and simultaneously heartbreaking to watch unfold. (Trigger warnings: LGBTQ+phobia, being thrown out of the house)
LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Lesbian protagonist, aro/ace side character, wlw relationship
MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Even though this one’s a bit more on the magical realism side (hey, it’s shelved as contemporary on Goodreads though…right? Right?), this is, without a doubt, a gorgeously written novel and one of my favorite YA love stories.