Levine Querido. Oct. 2023. 416p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781646142637.
Gr 4-9–Subtle worldbuilding, flesh-and-bone protagonists, and magnetic writing make this sci-fi companion to Newbery Award-winning The Last Cuentista an instant classic. To survive, orphan brother and sister Leandro and Gabi scavenge potatoes for their harsh employers. They are Cascabeles, the descendants of the farmers who worked the lands of the San Joaquin Valley before a disaster wiped out most of the world 400 years ago. They live under the subjugation of the cruel Pocatelans, under threat of exile for any minor infraction, in tent communities and dire conditions, afraid of monsters and starvation. Completely on their own, the siblings have to pickpocket to stay alive. Leandro takes the fall for Gabi when she gets caught stealing, and he is banished. Instead of a death sentence, he is transformed into a hummingbird drone and joins other machines, called alebrijes, named after the mystical creatures sculpted by Oaxacan artists. In his new form, Leandro uncovers a dangerous plot. With measured pacing and layered character development, Higuera’s latest is a masterly exploration of how corruption is an indelible part of every oppressive society. It’s also a celebration; there will always be a beacon of hope in dark times, fueled by stories and community. There are still reminders of the previous world that serve to remind readers that this society is not too different from our own. The Cascabeles speak Spanish; the Pocatelans speak English.
VERDICT This gorgeously written post-apocalyptic novel is a must for every library.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing