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DMS

Saturdays in Books

Reviews of speculative fiction, YA, middle grade, and graphic novels, along with stray thoughts, links, and pictures.

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The SFWA European Hall of Fame: Sixteen Contemporary Masterpieces of Science Fiction from the Continent
Kathryn Morrow, James K. Morrow

Year in Review: Middle Grade

I think this will be the last one of these this year. Because it's already March, what.

 

I'm engaged in a multi-year project to find books for my niece. Because I love the genre, I tend towards science fiction and fantasy. Because I was handed it so rarely at her age, I'm trying to find books with female characters front and center that aren't romances. Also, because she is, I'd prefer these heroines to be POC's. That's an amazingly tall order, and I almost never hit all three of those targets. 

 

Here are a few of my favorites from this past year. While I saved my favorite for last, the rest are in no particular order.

 

When You Reach Me - Rebecca Stead When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead. Not a POC, but this razor sharp heroine unravels my favorite kind of SF puzzle. OMG, she is getting this for her next birthday and I so so so hope she loves it. 

 

Hush - Jacqueline Woodson Hush, by Jacqueline Woodson. Not SF, but a great read nonetheless. This has neither an easy plot nor a saccharine happy ending. I'm going to wait for her to be a bit older, but I am excited about eventually getting to talk to her about coping with change and finding your own way.

 

Kat, Incorrigible - Stephanie Borgis Kat, Incorrigible, byt Stephanie Borgis. This was a recommendation from the indy bookstore I now buy most of my fiction from. I would have passed on it, because it looks like period romance with magic. It kind of is - if one of Kat's older sisters were the POV character. But Kat is starring in an adventure with magic. She's delightful. 

 

Mexican Bestiary - David Bowles Mexican Bestiary, by Noé Vela and David Bowles. I admit to only having heard of this because David is a friend. That being said, this is so awesome a concept and so fun an execution that I couldn't not include it. Illustrations go with each description of a creature from Mexican folklore, and those descriptions are in both English and Spanish.

 

Doll Bones - Holly Black Doll Bones, by Holly Black. By far, my favorite middle grade read of the year. This is creepy and poignant and so full of win. The POV character is a boy, so I almost passed, but it's the story of him and the two little girls he's been friends with for ages as they start to get torn apart by all the bullshit that comes with growing up. Love, love, love this book

 

Yeah, almost none of them meet all my requirements. I guess I can't find a Zahrah the Windseeker every year, but I sure as heck can expect to.

 

Eventually, I'll be reading more YA, but I've still got a couple years of MG to pass along to my niece. Let me know if you have any recommendations!