First, I try to keep up with publishing trends as I can. This seems to be one of those “in vogue” type stories, so I’m going to read it. But why, oh why, does it seem like more YA gets published than adult books? Is it just that much more profitable? Is it just that much more advertised?
Whatever. Here we go.
Author: Roshani Chokshi
I think this is perfectly billed as YA. It has the right amount of violence, love interest, character balance, and darkness. No concerns whatsoever with how this book presents itself, its material, or anything else. If it looks interesting to you, you can probably go in without expectation that anything will be truly disturbing for you.
This book started out like a pretty normal steampunk fantasy. You have four kids with disparate talents and weaknesses, and they all have uncanny levels of education and skill. They want different goals that happen to align, and they fit the “found family” trope (especially because their biological families are dead or useless, etc.). I thought this was all ok, and I think anyone interested in YA would not bat an eye at how Chokshi writes these characters. The reason I think I made this 4 stars instead of 5 was because it did have those YA tropes that I feel cringey about.
I really liked the concept of the forge and how the world’s magic worked. Chokshi used these concepts to great effect in making her commentary on colonialism/post-colonialism. By using a diverse set of characters and not using their races in a tokenistic fashion, Chokshi came up with something devastatingly unique in a genre I find clogged with nonsense.
I was fascinated by the character concept of Laila. She was a stillbirth, but through the magic of her local area (India), her parents brought her back – questionably, we might add, with a soul. Her struggle was to either gain a soul or ensure she had one before her time on earth ran out. I did not like the very end where she entraps Severin into a relationship, but throughout most of the book that relationship is very tightly done.
I recommend this to fans of YA adventure or steampunk. If you like kids doing cringey YA things on a treasure hunt, this is for you.
4/5 Discoball Snowcones
We’re going to read a classic mystery: Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None!