Mini reviews: the one with the YA books

Morning guys!

I’m here with another edition of my mini reviews… today’s edition is a special edition edition because I’ve got a handful of YA books that I thought I’d share some quick reviews of! I got to read some brilliant YA books during Viperthon and I need to shout about them from the heavens!

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All American Boys – Jason Reynolds

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A bag of chips. That’s all sixteen-year-old Rashad is looking for. What he finds instead is a fist-happy cop, Paul, who mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter, mistakes Rashad’s pleadings that he’s stolen nothing for belligerence, mistakes Rashad’s every flinch at every punch the cop throws as further resistance and refusal to STAY STILL as ordered. But how can you stay still when someone is pounding your face into the pavement?
There were witnesses: Quinn – a varsity basketball player and Rashad’s classmate who has been raised by Paul since his own father died in Afghanistan – and a video camera. Soon the beating is all over the news and Paul is getting threatened with accusations of prejudice and racial brutality. Quinn refuses to believe that the man who has basically been his saviour could possibly be guilty. But then Rashad is absent. And absent again. And again. And the basketball team – half of whom are Rashad’s best friends – start to take sides. As does the school. And the town. Simmering tensions threaten to explode as Rashad and Quinn are forced to face decisions and consequences they had never considered before.

Anyone who’s been here for longer than a minute will know that I am THE BIGGEST fan of anything Jason Reynolds writes. I think his Track series (Ghost, Patina, Lu and Sonny) is one of my favourite series I’ve read in recent times. He just writes with such purpose and meaning that it’s hard not to get sucked into these worlds with these characters… and All American Boys is NO different.

This story is all kinds of important. This made me cry, told me a story which is all too familiar to some. The dual perspective was brilliantly done and there’s a certain sense of urgency in this. We need to do something about social injustice and we need to do it soon. There’s characters in this who just bring such light and hope in a really terrible situation. Clarissa is one of those. This isn’t an easy read; it needs to be digested and mulled over. It’s a read that devoured me and made me cry, made me angry and made me hopeful for better. People aren’t all good, but people aren’t all bad. There’s a moment in this with a teacher that hit me hard. There’s a moment with Rashad’s dad that sent me over the edge. This book is powerful and its timely. It’s a story that shouldn’t be lived by many, but it is.

Mina and the Undead – Amy McCaw

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New Orleans Fang Fest, 1995.
Mina’s having a summer to die for.
17-year-old Mina, from England, arrives in New Orleans to visit her estranged sister, Libby. After growing up in Whitby, the town that inspired Dracula, Mina loves nothing more than a creepy horror movie. She can’t wait to explore the city’s darkest secrets – vampire tours, seedy bars, spooky cemeteries, disturbing local myths… And it gets even better when Mina lands a part-time job at a horror movie mansion and meets Jared, Libby’s gorgeous housemate, co-worker and fellow horror enthusiast. But the perfect summer bliss is broken when, while exploring the mansion, Mina stumbles upon the body of a girl with puncture marks on her neck, clutching a lock of hair that suspiciously resembles Libby’s… Someone is replicating New Orleans’ most brutal supernatural killings. Mina must discover the truth and prove her sister’s innocence before she becomes the victim of another myth

Now I will say that I’m not a big reader of horror books: I’m just a bit of a wimp to be honest! But as soon as I started reading this, I was gripped. This book is all kinds of great! I gobbled through a whole load of this early one morning and without even realising it, I’d finished it! It is one of those brilliant page turners that you just won’t be able to put down! This is full to the brim with vampires, mythology and attractive Americans? Who needs more than that?! Mina tells an amazing story of a young girl who makes her way over to New Orleans to see her sister and what you get is a story filled with brilliant characters, a wondrous story and a really compelling writing style. This made me want to visit New Orleans so so much… although maybe without the vampires! I loved the twists and turns and the BETRAYAL. Properly enjoyed this!

Felix Ever After – Kacen Callender

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“Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after. When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle…. But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

This was one of those books that I had seen floating about forever on Twitter (it’s been out in America for a while now and has just made its way over to the UK) and when the brilliant people of Faber asked me if I wanted to review it, I knew I needed to jump at the chance! Felix tells a wonderful story about trans identity, questioning who we are and accepting the love we deserve. Felix is going through a lot: figuring out his gender identity, desperately seeking someone to love when, at school, someone hangs pictures of him pre-transition and dead names him. There were bits in this that made me so angry, but I’m so glad that Felix has people around him who look out for him. I thought the scenes with his dad were particularly poignant. I definitely thought the texter was someone else! This book made me cry at the end (which will not come as a surprise to many people, ha!).

The Infinity Files – S.M.Wilson

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Get in. Get Out. ⁠⠀
Keep to the task.⁠⠀
Leave no trace.
Ash Yang dreamed of being a starfighter pilot. But when she crashes out of her final test – literally – she somehow lands the most powerful job in the universe. As Guardian of the Infinity Files she must secretly planet-hop through the galaxies, stealing or returning treasures that have the power to stop wars…or start them.⁠ But when her home planet is the one at war, can she get the job done?⁠

I really enjoyed S.M Wilson’s The Extinction Trials, so I was hopeful that this was going to be good… and I was correct to think it was going to be! If you’re after a badass young woman, a story set in space and a fascinating library of incredible artefacts, this is the story for you. This has got space battles aplenty, some brilliant friends and some true planet hopping going on. I loved the idea of jumping between planets to collect items for the Library and the idea of ‘Friends’ for the Guardians. I really liked that this delivered brilliant messages all about trusting your instincts, doing what’s right and believing in your friends (even when what they’re asking you seems absolutely ludicrous). I am very curious about book 2!

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And that’s it for now! Four bitesize YA reviews! Something for everyone here!

Have you read any of these books?
What are you reading at the minute?

Talk to me in the comments… I’d love to talk to you about these books! 

S x

3 thoughts on “Mini reviews: the one with the YA books

  1. Astrid says:

    Felix Ever After sounds like a fascinating read! I did struggle with this feeling of being a little too different minority status-wise, even though I’m white. I’ll definitely check that one out.

    Like

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