I honestly didn’t know that Middle Grade science fiction thrillers were a thing until I started “Frozen Secrets”, which follows young Max in a futuristic setting where the nations of the world are colonizing space. Max has a knack for trouble as any burgeoning teenager would, especially as Max really loves adventure and really wants to be a super-spy. He’s often the ring-leader with his friends, getting them to go along with his exploits, because if Max smells something even vaguely like a conspiracy or a new place to explore, this young man is going to insert himself into it, consequences be damned! It’s a very endearing story, and I think MOST actual middle grade readers will enjoy it.
Hello, and welcome back to another “Chelscey was real late to the party on this one” review. Yes, I am finally diving into the Witchlands with “Truthwitch” and yes, it’s my first book by Susan Dennard though I have followed her and her writing advice for years now. And coming out of this book, I can finally appreciate the “it’s me” and not the book feelings. Because “Truthwitch” is such a firm YA novel with its chosen one tropes and bonded pairs, and that’s great, but not for me as an actual adult anymore. It’s kind of nice knowing that that’s just a problem with me and not Safi and her witchery, so I can remove that element and really decipher what did and didn’t work for me.
“Poseidon’s Trident” starts almost immediately after the first book, where our main characters, the Chosen One’s of the prophecy are attempting to find (ie: steal) the godly items they need to wage war on the Greek gods and free humanity from its enslavement to these selfish, brutal deities. Be forewarned, the second book starts right in on what Andy and Zoey are attempting to do without much in the way of recap, so if you don’t remember what happened in the first book or who is who, you’ll want to refresh yourself a bit before starting this adventure, otherwise you may be a bit lost going in. But one of the things I like best about this author and her series are the subtle details she puts in that are spot on with the source material of the Greek myths, and that’s just as true in the second book as it was in the first.
“Seacity Rising” is a sweet, middle grade novel that follows a group of four aquatic animals on a quest to save their pond from a prophecy that promises doom in the near future. Babak is the only frog left in Seacity, and as such, he is the first to truly believe the prophecy and want to set out and find a solution to this impending doom. He is joined by princess turtles, and a genius fish who travel far from their pond to discover what is coming, and what they can do about it. While the main premise is a quest to save the home they love, the themes of friendship, caring for the environment and its animals, and avoiding climate catastrophe is strong and beautiful—without feeling sanctimonious. This would make for a great read aloud book for a parent and their young child!
When people kept saying that this book was like Mulan meets Project Runway, I took it with a grain of salt. Usually those comparisons are loose, or the elements are there, but not in a significant way. That’s not the case with “Spin the Dawn”. Oh no! The Project Runway and Mulan elements were STRONG in this book, especially for the first half of the novel (and again toward the end but mainly early on). Was I mad about this? Absolutely not! I can’t remember the last YA fantasy I devoured the way I did this magical story of Maia, who dreams of being the Imperial Tailor but can’t because of her gender. Then, when a decree is called for a new Imperial Tailor, and all the great Masters of the land must participate in the competition, or send their son in their stead, Maia steps in for her ailing father, and war broken brother. Pretending to be a boy and fooling all the men she’s competing with turns out to be the easiest of the trials and dangers Maia had to face, which tells you already how exciting this book ended up being.
Click the book images to see them on Amazon!