Review: Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi (Make Me a World 2019)

Reviewed by Robert Drinkwater

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi is set in a utopian city,  Lucille, where evil people, also called “monsters” no longer exist, but have been replaced by “angels”, good people who try to establish justice and peace. Pet explores a world which may look peaceful and perfect on the outside, but is in fact full of monsters. In many ways, the book mirrors the systemic racism and issues of justice that characterize the current political situation in the United States.   

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Review: Sword in the Stars by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

Sword in the Stars by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy (JIMMY patterson 2020)

Reviewed by Maayan D’Antonio

Ari, Merlin and their rainbow knights are back and are headed straight for the Camelot of the Middle Ages, where they must attempt to steal the Holy Grail from the King Arthur, in order to save the future from the evil Mercer Corporation that seeks galactic domination. But something is wrong, Merlin is in a…well? And where are his friends?

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Review: Sparrow by Mary Cecilia Jackson

Sparrow by Mary Cecilia Jackson (Tor Teen, 2020)

Reviewed by Maayan D’Antonio

Jackson’s debut novel tells the story of 17-year-old ballerina Savannah Rose—“Sparrow” to her friends and family. Sparrow has been chosen to dance the role of the Swan Queen, with her best friend and dance partner Lucas as the prince. But dancing isn’t Sparrow’s only talent. Her real talent is keeping secrets—a practice distilled into her by her long dead mother.

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Review: Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed (Soho Teen 2020)

Reviewed by Maayan D’Antonio

17-year-old Khayyam Maquet—American, French, Indian, Muslim—is spending her August sulking around Paris. Her essay to her dream school, The Art Institute of Chicago, wasn’t received well by the committee, derailing her chances of getting in. On top of that, her maybe ex-boyfriend, Zaid, is ghosting her. Just when everything feels exceptionally crappy, and Khayyam literally steps in crap, she meets Alexander, the descendant of the famous French writer Alexander Dumas.

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Review: Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett (Knopf Books for Young Readers 2019)

Reviewed by Kelly Dasta

Full Disclosure is an intersectional young adult novel that fosters sex-positivity and works to break the stigma surrounding HIV—a prime example of how diversity and inclusion are becoming more pervasive within the YA genre. Written by New York University film student, Camryn Garrett, the novel details the story of Simone Garcia-Hampton who hopes to keep her HIV positive diagnosis under-wraps upon transferring to a new high school. However, she soon develops feelings for a charming boy named Miles, which means if she wishes to pursue a relationship with him, she’ll have to tell him about her diagnosis eventually. To make matters worse, one day she receives a note in her locker, threatening that she either tell Miles about her diagnosis, or the note-writer will tell the whole school. Her first reaction is to hide the truth, but “as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on.”

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Review: Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

Five Midnights by Ann Davila Cardinal (Tor, 2019)

Reviewed by Maayan D’Antonio

16-year-old Lupe Dávila is a bi-ethnic “Gringa-Rican” from Vermont on her way to spend the summer in Puerto Rico with her father’s family. Only this time she is going alone, as her father has decided to stay behind. Lupe is desperate to experience Puerto Rico without the constraints of her uncle, the police chief, who is in the middle of a very perplexing murder case. And though he and Lupe often discuss his cases, as they both share a love of solving murders, this time he refuses to talk with her about it.

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Review: The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper (bloomsbury 2020)

Reviewed by Madeleine Nowak

If I really wanted to do Phil Stamper’s debut YA novel The Gravity of Us justice, I’d pull out my phone and video myself live walking through the streets of New York City while I shared my thoughts with you. To review the book this way would be the best homage to Cal, the wonderful narrator Stamper has crafted, a social-media-savvy, budding seventeen year-old reporter from Brooklyn who suddenly finds himself transplanted to Clear Lake, Texas when his dad is picked as an astronaut candidate for NASA’s first mission to Mars. In Clear Lake, Cal is pulled away from everything he loves from Brooklyn, but unexpectedly brought closer to Leon, the son of another astronaut and the perfect love match for Cal.

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Review: Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy (Little, Brown, and Co., 2019)

Reviewed by Maayan D’Antonio

17-year-old Ari Helix is a refugee who has no impulse control. So when she sets off alarms she shouldn’t have on Heritage, a spaceship that belongs to the tyrannical Mercer Company, she and her brother Kay escape from the ship and hide on Old Earth, now a desolate planet. But when Ari pulls Excalibur from a gnarled tree, she unknowingly sets into motion a new cycle of the King Arthur legend. A cycle she doesn’t know has anything to do with her.

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