Unfortunately, your access has now expired. But there’s good news—by subscribing today, you will receive 22 issues of Booklist magazine, 4 issues of Book Links, and single-login access to Booklist Online and over 180,000 reviews.
Your access to Booklist Online has expired. If you still subscribe to the print magazine, please proceed to your profile page and check your subscriber number against a current magazine mailing label. (If your print subscription has lapsed, you will need to renew.)
You must be logged in to read full text of reviews.
> Logged-in users can make lists, save searches, e-mail, and more!
> Click My Profile to create a username & password
> Try a free trial or subscribe today
February 15, 2018 BOOKLIST
Find more Diverse YA Fiction from Micro-Presses
While mainstream publishers are taking steps toward diversity, a large number of talented, diverse authors turn to micro-presses: publishing entities smaller than traditional small presses, and including self-publishing. Here is the latest of our periodic roundups, featuring two titles from Zetta Elliott, a leader in this space.
Darkness Comes at Dawn. By Francina Simone. 2017. 401p. ChunkyCatBooks, paper, $15.99 (9780997710311). Gr. 9–12.
“Equality is about raising people up, not tearing others down. Never forget that. If you do, you’ll become everything you’re fighting against.” Katie Watts is floundering. She just found and lost her biological father, who revealed that she is the heir of a major vampire house; her adoptive dad can’t acknowledge Katie’s new life as a vampire; teachers and classmates treat her with suspicion; and her frustrations set her up for an unanticipated yet potentially deadly addiction while alienating her from her boyfriend, Tristan. The supernatural world she’s just discovered is also struggling. Werewolves, witches, and vampires protest the inequalities among the races, and a growing group accuses humans of being the root of the problem. This second book in the Guardians Trilogy focuses on the growth Katie must undergo to become a leader for the times ahead, and the massive twists that occur in the last few chapters may blindside readers. Overall, however, Simone reveals and tightens the noose of political intrigue with an adeptness that marks her as a brilliant up-and-coming fantasy writer.
Mother of the Sea. By Zetta Elliott. 2017. 60p. Rosetta, paper, $7 (9781544263854). Gr. 8–11.
She had been proud to become a woman, but then the raiders came, her family died, she was taken to the white castle on the coast, and now she is aboard a ship and very afraid. Her one source of encouragement and protection is a mysterious child, whom her captors only sometimes see, and the child whispers to her of freedom, machetes, and her mother, who is a very strong warrior—and is very close by. Told through the perspective of a largely nameless teenage girl, Elliott’s tightly crafted novella of the Middle Passage accurately portrays or gestures toward many of the complexities of power, gender, and race in the Atlantic slave trade. Elliott depicts these realities while instilling a deeper layer to the text, which presents the realities through the faith and understanding of a young West African woman who is loved and guided by her Spirit, the Ifá orisha Yemoja. The result is a thought-provoking, evocative tale worthy of many a rereading.
The Phantom Unicorn. By Zetta Elliott. Illus. by Charity Russell. 2017. 112p. Rosetta, paper, $7 (9781975659639). Gr. 4–7.
Qing Yuan has two moms, a baby sister, a dad imprisoned after attending a peace march, African and Asian ancestors, and strangers who keep asking him, “What are you?” He’d sure love to be a little more normal, especially since he’s starting a new school in two weeks. Q also loves the Middle Ages, and on a trip to the museum, he unexpectedly witnesses a unicorn step out of a tapestry. That piece of magic goes sour when a security guard accuses Q of sabotage, since he’s a black boy standing too close to an exhibit, but it starts Q on a journey of making new friends and discovering what he’s willing to do to keep goodness safe in the world. Like the previous three City Kids books, this emphasizes a diversity of backgrounds and friendships, and it brings this diversity to stories most often reserved for white characters, like those with haunted castles, unicorns, time-traveling friends, etc. Introducing enjoyable new characters, this is a fun and fast-paced continuation of an enchanting series.
Starswept. By Mary Fan. 2017. 376p. Snowy Wings, $17.99 (9781946202277). Gr. 9–12.
“I don’t just play for Papilio. I play for the music. For me.” Iris Lei knows she’s bound in a system that exploits her. Since the alien Adryil made contact with Earth, technology advanced at such a fast pace that most humans live in generational cycles of debt-slavery. Now, Earth is revered in the galaxy only for their Arts. Each generation, a lucky few students, like Iris, attend Papilio or another Arts Academy and fiercely compete to be one of the few who gain an Adryil Patron and a chance to leave Earth and support their families. Unjust as it is, Iris believes she understands the system until she befriends Dámiul, a rebellious young Adryil, who insists that she learn to protect herself from mind control. Caught in a world even more dystopian than she realizes, Iris is a refreshingly pragmatic and caring protagonist. Intertwining art-school drama, science fiction, mystery, and romance, Fan has created an engaging story of human (and humanoid) motivations and desires and started a series that reaches for the stars.
> Try a free trial or subscribe today