Teens Review Spy Thrillers, "Strange" YA, and More

From mysterious silhouettes to eye-catching color schemes, the covers of these YA titles grabbed our teen reviewers' attention.
From mysterious silhouettes to eye-catching color schemes, the covers of these YA titles grabbed our teen reviewers' attention. COULTHURST, Audrey. InkMistress. 400p. Harper/Balzer+Bray. Mar. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062433282. Gr 8 Up–Arsa is a demigod with the power to use her blood to change the future. Despite this, all she wants to do is live a quiet life with Ina, a mortal villager she loves. Her powers take her on a completely different path, and she desperately wants everything to go back to how it was. The author brings readers through Arsa’s lengthy journey to fix all the mistakes she has done. Throughout this journey, she learns unexpected things about her heritage and her relationship with Ina. As the book intensifies, more is revealed about the characters’ true intentions, and Arsa struggles with facing these truths. In the book’s cover there is a girl and a dragon’s tail, it leaves readers wondering what these things have to do with the book. I enjoyed reading the book and making the connection to the cover that Ina is the dragon and Arsa is the girl. What I really liked about this book is how sexuality is normalized. When a girl was attracted to another girl in the book, it didn’t seem out of place in any way. It seemed completely normal, which is something our society today is working hard to achieve. Rarely do you ever see a book with a girl who initially is in a relationship with a girl, but ends up with a boy, rather than it being the other way around. It’s obvious in the beginning of the book that Arsa’s relationship with Ina isn’t healthy and that Arsa wasn’t in love, she was obsessed, with Ina. I think it’s great that the author shows this in a relationship and how something like that can be toxic. The book carries multiple important messages and has very diverse characters. The ending of the book did leave me mostly satisfied, there was no cliff-hanger, but if there was something I would change is I would have an epilogue where there is a follow-up on the  growing love between Ina and Nisame that was revealed near the end of the book.—Nicole Rodriguez ORLANDO, Kristen. You Won’t Know I’m Gone. 320p. (The Black Angel Chronicles: Bk. 2) Feiwel & Friends/Swoon Reads. Jan. 2018. $16.99. ISBN 9781250123619. Gr 9 Up–This book follows the struggles of Reagan Hillis, a young spy training to be a Black Angel with the goal of getting revenge on her mother’s killer, Santino Torres. She was raised to be a hero—a genius made to save lives, but at the same time, she is not faithful to her calling. Reagan lives through her life with false identities that don't define who she really is, and it scares her to see who is behind those masks she’s created. After meeting with her new friends Cam and Anusha and her old friend Luke, she is able to form strong bonds as they interact, understand, and support one another through tough times. Reagan learns bit by bit how to unravel her masks and accept the beauty of who she is. Drama, love, grief, and revenge are all elements that make this plot heart thrilling, and comes together beautifully in a bittersweet tone, calling me to continue each chapter. The cover of the book was really the first part of the book that I noticed and was fascinated by.  It has overlapping red, blue, and black that creates perspective and appears to be shaped like a girl’s head. Also, they give an alluring vibe that made me question the theme of the book, especially with the small man standing in the bottom right corner. Though once I read the summary, I felt like doing a million somersaults. It was very captivating, and Orlando perfectly explained the plot in a way that would motivate young adults to seek into the darkness and unlock the passage way towards several roller-coaster rides. The book was surprisingly great for a genre that I don't often look into, but I wanted more action. In all honesty, the format, descriptive details, and distinction between characters were fantastic, but I felt like the novel was lacking because of how it didn't have fighting scenes or suspense that I was expecting from the book. It was more towards the end that suspense was applied, but I really wanted an equal distribution in every section of the book. Though overall, I recommend this book to any fellow reader that wants a glimpse of creative fiction.—Kaylla Jauregui WATTS, Leander. Meet Me in the Strange. 260p. Meerkat Pr. Mar. 2018. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781946154156. Gr 10 Up–The book is about a boy named David who meets a friend named Anna and helps her run away from her brother Lukas. When they run away, they follow Django Conn, a rock idol who’s on a tour. For example in the text it said, “Lukas is really my big brother. I ran from home again. The first time he found me within 24 hours and locked me down for month. He needs to be control. He’s the king and I’m the queen. But you know queens don’t have to say what happens to them.” This shows how dangerous her brother can be because he’s so controlling over her in a bad way. What I noticed about the cover was that it’s neon, and it really describes the book, because they’re in a retro setting with glam girls. Also, I like the cover because it kind of gives a taste of what the book is about and it’s really interesting. There are shadows of people with weird hairstyles, just like the beginning of the book, where they were in a concert with people who were all dressed up. For example, in the book it states: “Boys and girls had eye makeup, slivery mascara, and big, shiny slashes of lipstick, dangly earrings, platform shoes, feathers and fishnets, and the whole glam look,” which made me think that the cover’s setting is in the concert. My favorite part of the book is when David notices someone out of the blue because she stands out even though she dressed normal. For example in the text it said “This girl was different. She had glasses, ordinary eye glasses….Her hair was black, long and damp in snaky- sexy locks that clung to her face.” Also, in the text it said “She wasn’t one of them, not exactly, trying to look like, trying to be Django.” And later on the book, he tries to search for her, which makes her seem special in his perspective. I would recommend this book because it’s really good. Also, something I would change about the story is that I would add more imagery to Django’s concert and when David was talking to Marie-Claire, because I feel like when David was talking to Maria, if you add imagery, maybe it can turn the conversation deeper than it already seems.–Tenzin Tseyang

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