Ahoy there me mateys! I received this young adult fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .
Author: Romina Garber
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: Available Now! (hardback/e-book)
This book interested me with its use of Argentinian folklore and also its commentary on the U.S. immigration system. Though this book came out last August, only now was I able to find the mood and mental state to read this title. Though I understand the love for this book, it ended up being just an okay read for me. I don’t really feel like breaking down the plot as the blurb is pretty clear. But here be some thoughts on the novel.
- Argentinian folklore: The highlight because I love getting more insight into the myths and folklore of South America which gets ignored in the U.S.
- The Reality: I enjoy that the book dealt with the important topic of immigration. I also enjoy when bodily functions of teens (periods) are acknowledged and not treated as shameful in books.
- The Main Character: I did cheer for Manu to succeed and I enjoyed her overall. I particularly enjoyed that she loved to learn and read. I also loved that she was reading classic Spanish works and about space.
- Manu’s Family: I loved how much Manu’s mother cared about her. I also loved Perla, Manu’s surrogate grandmother, who owned the apartment they lived in. I honestly think that Perla may have been me favorite character.
- The Main Character: It took her way, way too long to figure out what her “problem” was. Everyone should have figured out the “mystery” sooner. The reader knows pretty much right away. Granted the title helped. Plus she is becomes the special snowflake good-at-everything type which is not to me taste.
- The Love Interest: Insta-lust and blandness. The twist involved was also lackluster and kinda annoying.
- The Side Characters: Many of these characters (particularly the men) were weakly portrayed and not fleshed out. So much so, that I got confused as to who was who.
- The Setting: While I liked the magical school concept, the actual training made no real sense and was barely shown. The world building felt very shallow and undeveloped. The rules and systems of both the school and fantasy world itself seemed contradictory at times.
- The Pace and Plot: The pacing was slow and yet the climax and resolution sped by. The pace was especially slow in the part where the group is trying to figure out Manu’s magic. I also hated the whole Fierro rebel plot and especially how that resolved. I also didn’t enjoy the plot concerning Manu’s father. I wanted Manu to care more about what happened to her mother rather than her social life. And while I liked that immigration is discussed, how ICE and school was dealt with seemed rather bizarre in the overall story. Oh and how Manu got to (and stayed in) the school was laughable. And what was the point to the “other Manu?”
- The Spanish: I did not care for the technique the author chose to portray the translations. It kept interrupting the story flow.
I don’t feel inclined to read the next book in the series though I am glad more books like this are being published. Arrr!
So lastly . . .
Thank you St. Martin’s Press!
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
Some people ARE illegal.
Lobizonas do NOT exist.
Both of these statements are false.
Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.
Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.
Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.
As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.
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