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Shorter Musings MG Fantasy

Here are some shorter musings on recent MG fantasy reads.

Anya and the Dragon by Sofiya Pasternack
This book is fun. It is a book full of adventure, an obvious bad guy, some more complicated morally gray area characters, and a strong, brave heroine. It is also a book about friendships, community, and fighting for what is right. All things that usually work for me really well. While I enjoyed this, I did feel it was a little overlong and there were certain plot points at the end I didn't love. However, there were things I thought were done really well, such as Anya's Jewish faith and the idea that power needs to be challenged. In the end it was a middle of the road read for me, but it is one I will certainly be recommending to dragon and fantasy adventure lovers I know!

R is for Rebel by J. Anderson Coats
This is tough because I usually really like Coats's books. I had such a hard time with this one though on so many levels. It's difficult to get into because the world-building is being explained via plot. Due it being a MG book, that comes off a little stilted and cobbled together. I didn't feel the characters were very well developed, and other than the main character, I honestly didn't know which girl was which most of the time. Then there are the thematic elements. I feel like Coats was trying to say some deep and much needed things about Imperialism. The forced schooling and cultural changes the girls were forced to endure is highly reminiscent of what went on here in America with the indigenous population. As a result, the book left me highly uncomfortable. Is it straight up cultural appropriation? I hesitate to call it that as she definitely set the book outside our own historical experience. However, it skirts close enough to the line for me to endorse it.

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
This is a truly excellent novel-both fun and well written. It deals with some difficult themes and experiences, while also maintaining a perfect MG tone. It's clear why it is included in Riordan's new imprint. Dare I say it is better crafted than most of Riordan's own work though? The characters are strong and well drawn. There is humor, high stakes, and a lot of adventure. I really enjoyed the way it used both African and American folklore. I can tell this is going to be one of those series I recommend constantly to kids with great success.


Anya and the Dragon has been on my TBR for awhile. As a dragon lover I really should give it a go, haha.
Kim Aippersbach said…
The Sal and Gabi books are Rick Riordan imprints, too. Seems like he (or his team) is doing a great job of picking writers!

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