S. Jae-Jones's lush, beautifully written retelling of Labyrinth meets Cruel Beauty is a heart-wrenching and bittersweet tale that, in a good way, leaves you with more questions than answers.
Author: A. Grace
I don't normally talk about representation in YA--maybe because I've never had as strong an opinion as some other reviewers who do see rep very significantly--but since I've had STEM women on my mind, and I find they're not a group that reviewers talk about as much as diversity in race or sexual orientation, here goes a (nowhere near exhaustive) list of some of my favourite science-oriented girls in the genre.
I wish I could say I decoded the pigeon poem myself with a snazzy JS or C++ program, but we all know that didn't happen. What I did do was go onto the author's website and co-opt the encoding/decoding tool she wrote just for this purpose.
The Empress is a bloodbath from start to finish. I think of this book as the Empire Strikes Back of the trilogy. That's one of the lightest ways of introducing it, and when that's true, you should be warned that it's incredibly dark. Eight hours after reading the last sentence, I'm still reeling from the sheer horror of some of the events that take place over the course of the novel.
Renegades is a full-fledged superhero story with one foot in our modern world and one foot in post-apocalyptic dystopia. The comic book-lite premise, resounding with echoes of Watchmen, manages to be surprisingly lighthearted despite the doom and gloom underneath.
As a YA novel, This Mortal Coil ticks all the boxes, going through the tried-and-tested formula of a gifted heroine, a mysterious deuteragonist-turned-love interest, a quest with a ticking time bomb and multiple shadowy organisations in pursuit, a shattering plot twist at the eleventh hour, and a revelation to set up the sequel. None of that detracts from the fact that wow, it's a clever little gem of a book. Nerdy, angsty and jarringly violent, This Mortal Coil deserves to join the list of the most powerful YA debuts.
Genuine Fraud shows abundant potential to become a twisty, top-notch thriller, but a muddled timeline and contrived plot prove to be its Achilles' Heel. It's for sure an enjoyable read with its own little quirks, but for a book hyped as a suspense masterpiece, there's never quite enough mysteriousness to the heroine or her environment.