A look at the very first Book Riot Young-Adult box!
The Book Riot team wanted to create a very special subscription to pay homage to the wildly, wicked, awesome world of Young-Adult books. This inaugural box featured wonderful stories of growing up, as well as the usual dose of quirky bookish goodies.
A complete look at #BYA01
How It Went Downby Kekla Magoon
This is a complex, exceptionally timely novel about race
relations and grief, as well as about how a community falls apart and whether
the possibility of it coming back together exists.
As a special bonus, BYA01 subscribers also received a deleted scene from How It Went
Down, as well as insight into the process of crafting this book told through
many points of view from the Kekla.
Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier
The core of Razorhurst is based on the real Sydney
razor mobs of 1920s/30s. This is a fascinating historical time period full of
badass women, and Larbalestier’s story will lead you down hours of fun, even
juicy, internet research.
Since you’ll want the story behind the story as soon as you close
the book, each subscriber has received a trading card featuring one of the real
life historical inspirations for Razorhurst.
Rory Story Cubes
This Story Cubes game is about
being creative and telling a story based on the pictures you roll on the nine
die. Connect a bee to a key to a phone to an apple. This isn’t the kind of game
you can win or lose; the point is to see how many ways you can tell a story.
“Today I’m Reading…” Mug
A fun way to sip down your favorite beverage.
Novel Tea Pouches
Delicious literary teas to round out the perfect Book-Lover box.
Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare. Literally.
Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder. Then Eli’s dream comes true.
Now Dusty has to follow the clues–both within Eli’s dreams and out of them–to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.
3 ½ stars to Naomi Novik’s Uprooted. I really wanted to love Uprooted. It had all the ingredients for a perfect read – glowing blurbs from Maggie Stiefvater, Rachel Hartman, Lev Grossman, a folk-tale atmosphere, a relatable heroine, magic. But it fell kinda flat for me.
Basically, Agnieszka lives in a small village by a dark, predatory forest. A cold, powerful magician called the Dragon protects the villagers from the forest and in exchange he takes a girl back to his tower every ten years to serve him. The girls come back whole, unharmed, but different. They leave the village, go to university.
But of course Agnieszka knows she won’t be chosen. She’s too ugly, too clumsy. Right so first off I can’t stand the trope where the MC bemoans how ugly they are because they are skinny and brown-haired (like really?). And honestly I couldn’t find the clumsiness endearing. But despite her skinniness and brown-haired-ness and awkwardness she is of course special. Agnieszka is a witch and must therefore be trained by law of the crown, so the Dragon takes her back to his tower to train her as his apprentice.
To say much more about the plot after that might be spoiling some of the fun, but unfortunately Agnieszka and the Dragon are barely together for a fraction of it. For me, the scenes when they were together were the best parts of the book. The growth of their relationship, from mistrust to friendship to maybe something a little more, felt organic and honest. The scenes when they did magic together, weaving Agnieszka’s messy, intuitive style with the Dragon’s practiced, precise one were fantastic.
Overall, I liked Uprooted, but it was far from perfect. Its best bits were when it was developing character relationships and when it was building its gorgeous sorta-Polish folk tale atmosphere (absolutely loved the dark, sentient forest). But sometimes the storytelling felt a little empty. Like this parts when they fought the forest monsters weren’t nail-biting and terrifying. They felt dull. Novik would create this great creepy atmosphere and then once the fight began I would find myself skipping words. I was never really afraid for Agnieszka’s life. And then there was the magic. While it was sometimes beautifully written it was also sometimes just too easy.
“I snatched up a handful of reeds from the bank without any incantations or charms: they had all gone out of my head. Instead I pulled a thread out of my cloak and tied the reeds at two ends. I threw the bundle down on the bank, halfway in the water, and flung magic at it. It grew into a long, light boat…”
Agnieszka has barely had any training, she’s only known she’s a witch for like less than a year. It felt almost cheap to just have Agnieszka just “fling” magic at everything. If she’d struggled through her magic to achieve this sort of fluidity or if she figured out another way to get across the water using specific spells or being clever then it would have been so much more rewarding.
I would recommend Uprooted, with a few very minor reservations.
(Spoilers! Maybe! But also, what was with the scene with Prince Marek and Agnieszka? Where Marek basically tries to rape Agnieszka and afterward the Dragon a) asks her, “Why did you put yourself into that ludicrous dress if you didn’t want to seduce him?” and b) assumes Marek did it to insult him? I realize we’re in the Middle Ages here but really???).