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Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

For those of you who grew up reading the Theodosia or Nathaniel Fludd Series, it's no surprise that Robin LaFevers can write an amazing story. But say, by some mistake, you didn't read Theodosia. (Go ahead and do so now, we'll wait.) Then this debut YOUNG ADULT novel from Robin's gonna blow your mind.

You know, scratch that. Even if you DID grow up read Theodosia and Nathaniel Fludd, your mind's STILL gonna be blown. Why? Because Grave Mercy (book one of the His Fair Assassin trilogy) has all the crossbow weilding, dagger throwing, political skulduggery and murderous nuns (that's right, you heard me) you can handle. Fans of Kristin Cashore (Graceling, Fire), rejoice-- Grave Mercy is just the book to tide you over until Bitterblue comes out in May! 

Set in medieval Brittany, Grave Mercy features Ismae, a girl who escapes a brutal arranged marriage by joining a convent of assassins. And while tough female leads who kill dudes are a dime a dozen these days in YA (not that we're complaining-- bring on all the tough chicks!)Ismae sets herself apart with likeable vulnerability and fondness toward other characters. Her sense of empathy is not dulled by the fact that she has been thrust into an impossible situation, which serves as a brilliant counterpoint to the amount of killing she does.

So if you feel like reading something that's so fun it'll kill you (literally) pick up Grave Mercy. You're welcome.

 

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

Local author and upcoming NYMBC guest Nina LaCour's newest (and aptly titled) The Disenchantments is cool. The characters are cool, the settings are cool, the subject matter is cool. Even the VW bus is cool, in a retro, we-don't-have-any-of-our-own-money-so-we-borrowed-this-bad*ss-old car kinda way. I almost peed myself from the coolness lent to the story by a graffiti artist the protagonist befriends. 

But I don't just love this book because it's cool. Or because it's about a bunch of kids from San Francisco. Nor do I love it because it takes place along that long drive from San Francisco to Oregon (with a brief foray into Washington), which is a drive I've taken at least 5 times now. I don't just love it because the writing is crisp, and lovely, and simple and evocative. But those are all parts of it.

I love it because it perfectly emulates the sensation of being done with high school, and realizing that, oh sh*t, this is when real life is supposed to start. And it illuminates this feeling perfectly, honestly, with touches of humor and with elegant prose. I haven't read a book this evocative of a particular moment in my own life since I read Lucy, by Jamaica Kincaid (which, if you haven't read, then you should, as it perfectly embodies what it feels like to be in your early twenties, a little pissed and a lot realizing that first person perspective is inherantly a little lonely.) 

(By the way, if you're wondering about all the * in the swear words, I know, it's lame. But this also isn't my personal website, so professionalism, yo, it is a must.)

(Also, if you're annoyed about all the parenthetical asides, sorry. There's no excuse for that.)

Nina relies on no stereotypes, no tropes and no shortcuts in this coming of age story. She creates real, honest, pissed, confused, hopeful, loving teenagers. So if you know any of those, or are (were) one yourself, then pick up The Disenchantments. It's just for you.

--Maggie

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