In this fast-paced time-travel novel, Ryan Graudin blends everything from sci-fi and fantasy to historical fiction, romance, and humor. With a compelling and action-packed storyline, and a vibrant and unique cast of characters; Invictus is perfect for a wide range of readers. Graudin brings a new take to the idea of time-travel, weaving in themes of friendship, romance, mystery- and the odd red panda. Whether or not time-travel or sci-fi is your usual genre, Invictus is a book that will grab you from the first chapter and not let go until you reach the last page. In the space of five minutes you’ll laugh, you’ll cry. And you will definitely fall in love with Imogen’s rainbow hair, Priya’s patience, Farway’s ego, Gram’s cluelessness, and Eliot’s mysterious mission. Hop aboard the Invictus, and sit back to enjoy this wonderful, quirky, mysterious, beautiful book.-Claire C
Veronica Roth’s “Carve The Mark” was an amazingly well written and creatively thought out story. All of the characters were extraordinarily enticing, and very realistic with all of their decisions and actions. I found myself at many different points through the book, wanting to dive even deeper into each and every person’s personal story. Although the very beginning was a bit confusing, due to the large magnitude of information about this new universe, eventually everything tied together and became much easier to understand. The storyline was easy to follow and had a great balance between the themes of friendship, love, and always followed by a thrilling action scene. I enjoyed this book very much, and would definitely recommend this novel to just about anyone. Once I started reading it, the hardest part was putting it down due to its captivating plot.-Will L
Face like Glass by Frances Hardinge is completely original and imaginative to the point of near insanity. It’s the kind of fantasy that forces the brain to stretch and contort and stretch into brand new outlooks. It forces the consideration of brand new perspectives and possibilities.
When Master Grandible, a reclusive cheese artisan, discovers a lost child in Caverna’s highly secluded tunnels, he realizes immediately that the girl is different. Seeing an opportunity but also wishing to protect her, he takes her in, hides her strange expressive face behind a black velvet mask, and raises her as his apprentice. Weary of Caverna’s society, he barricades them in, dealing only with a select few through his well-defended door. Seven years later the girl, called Neverfell, follows a small white rabbit to a crack in her master’s domain and wanders out into the world of Caverna. Caverna’s inner city is beautifully detailed and immersive. The passages and caves are so convoluted that anyone who tries to map them goes mad. The elite families are at constant war with each other for control of the city, and for the favor of the Grand Steward. The Grand Steward is so obsessed with staying in control that he has artificially extended his life and cleaved himself into two beings so that one part of him will always be awake. The members of the elite class are trained in a wide array of facial expressions, each carefully donned for the greatest manipulative effect, while the commoners are not allowed to have visible emotion and must wear only five approved faces. In contrast, Neverfell wears her thoughts and feelings on her face and that is the most dangerous thing of all. But there are people that definitely finds such a thing to be useful and that is how Neverfull ends up becoming a pawn in a dangerous game of power.
The progression of this story follows Neverfell in a character arc that shows realistic, slow growth. For the first part of A Face Like Glass, Neverfell is nothing but a pawn being moved from side to side and things happen to her. But as she starts to interact with people and learn about the true facade of life in Caverna, the more she grows, changes and becomes an active participant not only of her story but of everybody else’s in Caverna. Her resolve, goodwill, and resilient nature make her an engaging heroine, not an irritating one. All the characters of A Face like Glass are three-dimensional. In many ways, the elite are just as trapped as the commoners or even more so. The Grand Steward may be the most imprisoned of all. Frances Hardinge draws him so subtly and with so much nuance; it’s hard not to feel sympathy for him. Overall, A Face Like Glass is a multi-faceted tale, forcing the reader, to not only join in on a world full of lies, but also to question the lies in their everyday life. Even more than that, though, it is a tale of revolution and of resisting control in terms of social class.-Nika G
What to Say Next is about two teens in high school finding their way to truth. The novel features dual narration from the two main characters Kit Lowell and David Drucker. Kit, a usually outgoing girl, is struggling to make sense of her world with her father’s recent death. She befriends David, a frank and relatively lonely person. David lacks in social skills as a result of his autism, but is eager to have a friend. They bond quickly, becoming closer friends and finding comfort in each other’s company. Kit asks David to help her uncover the mystery of her dad’s car accident, but their friendship is put to the test when they reach the truth.
Throughout the novel, the characterization is well developed and strengthens the writing. David starts off as an intelligent and analytical character, and is hard to relate to because of his unique perspective on the world. He does not have many social skills, and is further separated from his peers due to his label as a “retard”. The tone and diction of his chapters illustrate his rational mind, and it’s clear that he needs certainty. Later, he becomes more relatable and is not defined by labels. He is truly seen as a person instead of a stereotypical misunderstood teen.
Additionally, the hierarchy of typical high schools is pointed out to be unfair and biased. When David defends himself from the foot, the principal suggests moving him to another school. Instead of removing the bullies from the situation, the victim is targeted and told to start over at another school. Principal Hoch is valuing the football stars, and trying to protect them rather than David. She is unjustly perpetuating the high school hierarchy and labeling people. She even refuses to hear David’s side of the story, and does not care about his several death threats. This focuses on the harmful effects of valuing certain individuals over others, and using damaging labels without seeing beyond them. It leads to the people on top becoming complacent, and the people at the bottom being confined to their labels and unable to safely be themselves.
Ultimately, What to Say Next explores important themes of identity and friendship. I would rate it a ⅘ stars, and would recommend it to anyone interested. Thank you so much to Bookshop SC for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this ARC, and I can’t wait to read the final published copy in July.-Genevieve B
The novel Girl in Pieces is an amazing story depicting the hard life of a teenage girl. Kathleen Glasgow writes from the perspective of the seventeen year old Charlotte Davis. The writing is so raw that it feels as it Charlotte is a real breathing person.
Charlotte Davis, or “Charlie”, is seventeen years old and has lot practically everything. The only way she is able to cope with her traumatic life is to forget. She takes thick shards of glass and cuts and cuts until all the sorrow and memories have flown away. Charlie tries to forget about her dad and his plunge into the river, her only friend who is broken and will never be the same, and the seed house where young girls go into the room filled by mattresses with strange men. She tries to cut it all out. If she cuts deep enough maybe she won’t care about “f#%*ing Frank” and how he is still out there, or her abusive mother. Charlie is admitted to a rehab hospital for girls.
Everyday in Group she listens to girls cry until they are empty. To their stories of self harm and drug abuse. Unlike the girls who drain their bodies of tears, Charlie never talks or cries. She doesn’t tell of her life on the streets, the drugs, or of the underpass. When her family can no longer pay for her treatment, her mother comes, but once again throws her onto the streets.
Through out Charlie’s journey you will become attached and sincerely care for her. While reading I became addicted to the pages and kept reaching for more. Glasgow was able to capture an angle that is not always seen, the uncensored side of teenage life. Nothing is held back. Charlie’s story is heartbreaking brutally honest, and one to remember.
It Looks Like This is Rafi Mittlefehldt’s first novel, but you wouldn’t know it from the masterful prose. Mittlefehldt chronicles a young queer boy Mike’s journey to maturity through the trials and tribulations of being “soft” in a very conservative family, being bullied at school, and the pain of first love. When his father learns that Mike has been kissing a boy from school on the beach, his father gives Mike the choice of going to conversion therapy or remaining how he is. While on the surface this seems like an easy choice, Mike is crushed by the weight of his family’s shame and the torture of facing bullies every day at school, and he accepts his parents’ offer, sending him on a rocky journey to self-discovery and confidence filled with tragedy, realization, and hope.
Mittlefehldt constructs a distance between the reader and Mike through his short choppy sentences and matter-of-fact manner of storytelling, giving it the numb feeling of being in someone else’s dream. This distance makes the novel black-and-white with bright bursts of color as emotion and surety slip through Mike’s shielded state of existence. Part of Mittlefehldt’s greatest success is in his ability to paint a sensory picture, describing everything from the rich colors of scenery to the smells and sounds, giving the reader enough to plant them firmly in space and time, but not so much as to lose the sense that there is something that is always just beyond reach. Mittlefehldt also weaves in many subtle metaphors so that he almost never has to explicitly tell the reader what characters are feeling and thinking. He does this with foreshadowing, often telling the reader exactly what’s going to happen, but it does not become clear that he has done so until everything comes together.
The plot is also magnificent. Mittlefehldt jumps around a bit, sometimes breaking up the story with little vignettes from Mike’s past, which help to shed light on why Mike behaves like he does and gives clues as to what might happen next. Even so, Mittlefehldt draws the reader in with Mike’s disjointed tale, creating the sinking feeling of climbing the biggest hill on a roller coaster and knowing that the fall is coming but being unable to do anything about it. The story is enrapturing in that way and its deep realizations stick long after the final page has been turned.
It Looks Like This manages to be strikingly beautiful, heart wrenching, and hopeful all at once. There is little―if anything―to complain about in Mittlefehldt’s debut novel and is certainly worth reading for anyone who has ever felt like they don’t quite fit in or who is simply looking for a gorgeous and breathtaking read.