Review: The King of Crows by Libba Bray

The Diviner’s series is such a well crafted story from beginning to end. Libba Bray has said in interviews that she wanted to write a ghost story and it kinda is. Our heroes have to literally fight the ghosts of our nation’s past and the ghosts of their own lives too. While I don’t think it was intended it is also a cautionary tale as well. It takes place in 1927 but so many of the issues that 1920’s America was facing we are still facing now. You all know the quote, History repeats itself? Well, Evie, Sam, Theta, Henry, Ling, Memphis, Isiah and Jericho are faced with racism, sexism, white supremacy, fascism and rapidly improvements in technology. I’ve mentioned this in past reviews of this series that so many of the scenes could take place today and not look out of place. We really haven’t learned from our mistakes or really ever really truly faced the truth of our past. The King of Crow was created by the greed, sorrow and misdeeds of our past. He feeds of the fear and ignorance and uses that to bargain with people for their souls and this has made him powerful. After the events of last book, our heroes have to go on the run. They are being blamed for the death of Sarah Snow, a popular radio star and they are easy targets because they are a group of young people who are black, Jewish, mixed race, gay, disabled and have powers that people do not understand. Once again playing on fear and ignorance they public quickly turns on them. Now the first half of the book have shades of the never-ending-camping trip from Harry Potter. The group has been split up and all of over the country. While it was necessary in some ways for characters to have a chance to grow and the piece together what was going on, it did drag down the narrative. Once they were all united the narrative really took off and become more compelling. They meet up with a new diviner named Sarah Beth. Sarah Beth is totally creepy but she knows how to defeat the King of Crows so our group of diviners seek her out. A lot of things happen and yes it is tragic but in the end they were able to defeat the ghosts of their pasts to defeat the ghosts of our past as well. I don’t want to say too much more because I don’t want to spoil it for you. I highly recommend this series and so relevant to today that you should read it and then discuss our past. We are a great nation but we have also done some terrible things and they will forever haunt us until we actually deal with it otherwise history will continue to repeat itself.

Quick Review: One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus

While One of Us is Lying was a steamroller with the mystery happening in the first book. One of Us is Next is more of a slow burn. It eases us into the mystery.. It takes place 18 months after the events of the first book. The “Bayview Four” have all graduated and all have stated college except for Addy, who decided to take a year off and works at a local restaurant. She works with fellow student, Phoebe who also lives across from her and her sister. Maeve, Bronwyn sister is still friends with Addy and hangs out often at the restaurant that Addy works. Usually with her friend and ex boyfriend.Knox. They find themselves once again at the mercy of a mysterious gossip but instead of Simon’s app, it’s a Truth or Dare game via text message. Clearly the student body and really the administration learned nothing from the last time because everyone immediately gets sucked into the game and the gossip and the school teachers are kinda useless. There is mention of a new “no tolerance” policy that was put into place after Simon’s death but obviously not working.. There were some pretty unsubtle bullying happening in plain sight of the whole school and at no time did any teacher or administrated got involved. I would say there are not very good at their jobs. On a whole it was a good companion to the first book and the resolution is pretty devastating. It wasn’t as good as the first one but still a solid read. Mystery readers will want to find out what happened next at Bayview high.

Quick Review: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Tell me if you heard this one. A jock, A beauty queen, a brain, an outsider and a criminal all get detention. Yeah, it’s basically the breakfast club except for one of them dies and the other four are the main suspects. The victim in question is Simon. He runs a gossip app that spills all of his fellow students secrets. It just so happens that his next post all involve his detention mates so f course they are all the prime suspects when it’s discovered his death wasn’t accidental. Bronwyn, Cooper, Addy and Nate and nothing in common before this but now they must band together if they are going to figure out what happens but when everyone has secrets, it’s hard to know who to trust. This was a fine mystery to read. The characters are all well fleshed out and vulnerable. They are not innocent but they are also not guilty and court of public opinion can be brutal. It’s an interesting study in social media, bullying and the pressures we put on kids to be perfect. With everyone having cell phones, it only takes a second for a picture to go viral and everyone knows your secrets. Not to mention a really good commentary on toxic masculinity and entitlement culture that goes with it. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil anything but there are a lot of twists and turns and while I suspected the outcome it didn’t make it any less tragic or upsetting. Well worth the read.

Review: The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Ana is a Fanatasist. One of seven perfect princess in The Kingdom theme park. She and her sisters are hybrids. Perfectly engineered to be what every guests wants them to be and everything that they could ever need is taken care of. Ana loves what she does but she begins to question the Kingdom’s mission when one of her sisters starts to act different and she meets a new worker named Owen. Soon her life gets turned upside down when Owen is missing and presumed dead and Ana is accused of his murder and put on trial. The book’s narrative goes back and fourth between Ana’s first person perspective of her life leading up to the event and transcripts of her trial. Between the two narratives the mystery of what happened to Ana and Owen starts to take place and well things are not what they seem. Ana being partly artificial she only knows at first what she is programmed to know but she is curious in the world and notices when anything is a bit off. It starts when a few of the hybrid animals start to behave aggressively and it leads to public incidents at the park. Then one of her sisters, Nia does something so shocking it really rocks Ana to the core. She finds solace in her new friendship with Owen, a maintenance worker at the park but he is not who she think he is too. As she tries to put together what is going on in the park while also dealing with her new feelings for Owen. It really brings into question what it is to be human. Is Ana a person even though she was created in a lab? Is she capable of love or is she just mimicking emotions she has observed. It is also pretty scary at some of the shit they park does to their Princesses, it’s no wonder they take the drastic measures they do to get out. It’s great story and it has a really satisfying ending. It’s definitely open-ended so if there were to be a sequel there could be.