She’s back! Tamora Pierce is the Great Mother Goddess of YA, heralded by teens for generations. She gave us Alanna in 1983 and showed girls their inner bravery, to follow their dreams, and show the kingdom who they truly are. These themes are still prevalent in todays YA novels, and Pierce was at the forefront. Now she’s back with a new series for old followers and newbies to sink into.
It feels appropriate that Pierce goes back in time to show us the teenage years of Arram, aka Numair. We know how powerful of a mage he becomes, but everyone was once an awkward teen. Seeing Arram, Varice, and also Ozorne as teens going to school and still learning how to control their magic adds depth to their characters. Tempests and Slaughter moves through four years of schooling in only 455 pages but Pierce has a balance of simple busy school life and the drama of being so powerful you can’t control it, along with being friends with a prince. Pierce has long been an expert with balancing the mundane with the dramatic, and what better setting to do that than a school.
All of Pierce’s stories revolve around the universe of Tortall, and while it is intimidating to jump into an extensive world with 20+ books to back it up, Pierce has always made her books and Tortall accessible. Pick up any book and you’ll easily slip into the world. Pierce continues to be a writer for the young and the old, the new and the familiar. For the new, enjoy! For the familiar, welcome home.
By now most YA readers are aware of the DC Icons books coming out from Random House. Leigh Bardugo caused waves with her Wonder Woman story, and Sarah J. Maas broke Instagram when she released the cover of her own DC story, Cat Woman (not really but she did garner over 34,000 likes). Warcross received positive reviews (myself included in those reviews) and is still being talked about months after its release. Now Marie Lu is following it up with Batman Nightwalker. What a way to start the year.
Lu had the privilege and the challenge of writing teenage Bruce Wayne, before he becomes Batman. We’ve watched his parents die numerous times and have seen him fully committed as Batman in various mediums, but those middle years have largely been absent. This gave Lu the creative freedom to explore what high school might be like for a billionaire, but I can’t imagine writing a character with an extensive history. We had specific expectations of what we wanted to see because we know the ending. We know exactly who Bruce Wayne will be and there are tropes we expect to see to set that up.
This isn’t an earth shattering book, but Lu fulfills our needs with the Easter eggs we were hoping for. Bruce has just turned 18 and is finally allowed in the experimental room at Wayne Tech where Lucian does most of his work and where we get The Suit smoking gun, which is exciting because we know its one of many suits to come.
A major aspect the movies haven’t used enough of is Batman’s detective tendencies. Batman: The Animated Series did an excellent job of portraying the show as a mystery show, with Batman actively researching other villains before taking to the night. Lu plays with this idea, showcasing Bruce’s interest in what’s happening in Gotham by listening to a police scanner, delving into the internet, and poking around abandoned buildings.
Batman Nightwalker is a fun, quick read. It gives depth to Bruce, Diana, and Harvey, seeing them as teenagers. I haven’t met an Alfred I didn’t like, and Lu’s Alfred is no exception. You won’t regret taking a jaunt through Gotham with young Bruce Wayne.
1. Hannah Tinti is a literary lyricist I can’t get enough of.
2. Not many authors can turn prose into poetry but Tinti pulls it off like there’s nothing to it.
3. Samuel Hawley is one of the truest characters I’ve read.
4. Hawley’s “hits” and jobs don’t feel like they’re coming from a trained professional, but from a guy relying on his common sense, and becomes a professional because of it.
5. Lily is the perfect love story for Hawley.
6. Lily’s touch is all over Hawley and Loo’s lives and Tinti pulled it off without feeling overbearing or cliché.
7. Loo goes on a transformative journey as she learns of her father’s past, how she fit in it, and what their future relationship will look like.
8. Loo’s own love story is still open to possibilities.
9. Marshall is the love story that Loo needed.
10. Marshall goes on his own transformative journey as his life intertwines with Loo’s.
11. Tinti is masterful at making every character we encounter essential to the story.
12. This story will live in my heart for a long time, and I know it will live in yours as well.
By: Emily Coleman
Everything about Ethan Canin’s writing is beautiful and meaningful. Each sentence is carefully structured to evoke the exact feelings and response Canin wants to inflict on his readers. A Doubters Almanac is split into two sections. The first section we follow Milo Andret, a genius mathematician, as he grows up and becomes a Professor at Princeton. He drinks and womanizes his way to us unceremonious termination from Princeton. Then Canin switches to the point of view from Hans, Milo’s son. Hans recounts his childhood, growing up with a washed up mathematician for a father. Both of Milo’s children are as mathematically inclines as Milo but Hans is expected to carry on the Andret name.
Canin uses two points of view masterfully for both sections. While we watch Milo’s comings and goings through life, Canin uses more of an objective 3rd point of view. The reader watches Milo but doesn’t get inside his head and hear his feelings. With Hans’ section, Canin moves to a more omniscient point of view and the reader gets to know Hans intimately. We know his fears and worries and joys. It’s a brilliant technique to help us understand these two dynamic characters. My only complaint was Hans’ section time jumped quite a bit. While Mio’s section stayed linear, Hans would move from present to past to further past, back to present. It wasn’t necessarily difficult to follow but sometimes it took me a page or two to figure out what time period we were in.
Even as I was reading A Doubters Almanac, I was recommending it to everyone I talked to. Ethan Canin has a talent and writing craft I haven’t read in a while. I enjoyed his storytelling voice and the deep and raw character analysis Canin presents. I’ll be seeking out his other works, and waiting for his future novels.
By Emily Coleman
A Holocaust story is an ambitious endeavor for a debut author. Gavriel Savit wrote a historical fiction young adult novel centering around Poland as the Nazis invaded. What I really liked about the book is it wasn’t a story about the war but a story about a young girl on the run as the war is happening around her. Anna’s father leaves for a meeting at the University he teaches at and never comes home. The family friend watching Anna for the day doesn’t want to take the responsibility of harboring a child that might bring unwanted attention from the Nazis and leaves Anna on the street. Not having a mother anymore and no one willing to care for her, Anna is now alone in the world.
A tall, thin man sees Anna sitting in the street and questions what she is doing there by asking her in several different languages. Anna’s father was a linguistics professor and she has grown up with various languages spoken freely. Anna immediately feels a connection with the strange man because of his knowledge of languages and his knowledge of one language she doesn’t know, the song of a swallow bird. This mysterious man allows Anna to follow him out of Krakow and into the surrounding forest where Anna will grow up into a young woman. Anna and the reader never learn the man’s name so because of his connection with swallows, Anna names him Swallow Man while calling him Daddy when strangers are around. The Swallow Man teaches Anna how to survive on the run. He also teaches her the language of Road, a way to lie to the strangers you encounter while being sincere about it.
Gavriel Savit weaves a fairy tale-esk story with beautiful images of loneliness and wanting. Anna and the Swallow Man learn little about each other in their time together but they are caretakers of the other throughout their journey. The ending was left very open ended. We hope Anna will be taken care of but it’s hard to say what will become of her Swallow Man.