When you have twenty-nine books to review, you cry uncle and resort to short reviews. Plus, after all this time, I’m not certain I remember enough about any of them to write a full-length review. We will be breaking these into five parts. This is part seven. Only a few more of these to go. There may be some spoilers within these short reviews; readers, consider this your warning.
As a huge Chevy Stevens fan, I can safely say that Dark Roads is one of her best novels to date. Its basis in the real-life murder mysteries within a section of highway in British Columbia gives the story an added layer of legitimacy. Dark, disturbing, and more visceral than her previous novels, Ms. Stevens keeps you guessing until the very end. The characters’ pain is all too real, as is their frustration regarding those who are abusing their power. In part an ode to those who lost their lives on that deadly highway and in part a timely #metoo story, I believe Dark Roads solidifies Ms. Stevens’ ability to write stellar thrillers.
The Endless Skies by Shannon Price has a slow and predictable start that eventually improves to create a decent story. Ms. Price uses too many YA tropes for the story to be unique or refreshing. Plus, I find it very odd that this is the second book released in two months that has a floating island above a greater landmass that used to be part of that same landmass. I will say that I did find myself invested in Rowan’s plight even while the magic made me roll my eyes. Overall, I can’t say I’m too impressed.
Four Hundred Souls by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Baine is one of those books that is so difficult to describe. On the surface, it is nothing more than a collection of short stories and poems that tell the tale of Black Americans since the first enslaved African was brought to our shores. However, there is nothing superficial about this collection. Some essays provide new-to-me information about certain points in history, but all provide history from a very different point of view than the one commonly taught in history classes. Haunting and yet utterly fascinating, the pain of the last four hundred years permeates every essay and poem. Yet, all of them include a fierce pride at everything they have collectively overcome as well as an unbreakable will that shows how Blacks continue to thrive no matter what white people do to them.
The Last Legacy by Adrienne Young is a fun addition to the world Ms. Young first brought to us in Fable and Namesake. I personally enjoyed the chance to see a different aspect of Fable’s larger world. Bryn is not as fierce as Fable, which is a bit disappointing. I’m pretty sure Fable could have given any of the Roths a run for their money in attitude and danger. Her insta-love with Ezra is a bit odd given its intensity and their willingness to risk their lives for each other after only two days. Still, it’s a fun story that brings us back into the dark and shady world of gems and trade and gives us greater insight into Bastian’s ruling families.
Defy the Night is Brigid Kemmerer is definitely a highlight of the September releases. I truly loved this exploration of what a government owes its citizens when it comes to healthcare. While Ms. Kemmerer insists it is not a book about the pandemic, it definitely has relevancy as it talks about government-issued cures and the costs associated with it. I adored Emma’s compassion and commitment; when the world feels like it is collapsing, it does a person good to read about someone who isn’t willing to back down when things get tough. Emma’s and Corrick’s emotions are utterly real, making them highly sympathetic, blurring that line between fiction and reality. Plus, they make the cutest couple, earnest in their desires to help those less fortunate. I particularly love the fact that their relationship has its basis in a long friendship and not the insta-love that so many other YA novels contain. I cannot wait to get more of them!