Get ready for three new mini book reviews! I tried the mini review format once before and really liked it, so I thought I’d try some more! Today’s set will include three stories relating to both magic and school.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It did feel like a Harry Potter rip-off at the beginning, what with Simon being the “chosen one” and the magic and the character pairs (the mage/Dumbledore, Penny/Hermione, Baz/Draco, Dev and Niall/Crabbe and Goyle, etc.) and a ton of other stuff, but once I got past that, I ended up liking the story. Rowell really does take it in a completely different direction, and though there were lots of similarities to HP, there were plenty of things that made it stand apart. Also it was totally addictive and I loved the characters and the ending and it was just good! It was over 500 pages, but it didn’t feel like 500 pages. It wasn’t a chore! (Not that all 500-page books are a chore, but sometimes I just feel like, when will this book be over it’s been forever?)
I love that Carry On is like a book within a book, because the protagonist in Rowell’s Fangirl is obsessed with the fictional character Simon Snow! I just love it when authors do mind twisty stuff like that. It’s kinda like Lauren Child’s Clarice Bean/Ruby Redfort thing. (If you’ve read those you know what I’m talking about.)
Basically, Carry On is great and I like it way more than I initially thought I would!
Dude, Akata Witch was awesome! It’s set in Nigeria, and the main character, Sunny, is albino. Her family is Nigerian, but she lived in the US for a large portion of her childhood. Basically, she feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. She starts to see weird stuff, and she ends up being thrown into this magical society and discovering she has powers and can do magic (or juju, as it is more frequently called in the book.) With her new friends Chichi, Orlu, and Sasha, Sunny starts to learn how to use her new skills. And she’ll need them—bad things are happening, and it’s up to Sunny and her friends to stop them.
At first glance, this may seem like a typical fantasy story: kid discovers that kid has powers, learns how to use said powers, makes friends, fights bad guy. But Akata Witch is so much more than that: it has lovable, dynamic characters, good writing, and a strong foundation in Nigerian lore, which adds a fresh new spin to the genre. (I am by no means an expert on Nigerian mythology, or any type of mythology for that matter, but a quick google search will turn up many of the same names and stories that are talked about in the book.)
As far as classification, I was having trouble deciding whether to put this in young adult or middle grade. Sunny is twelve, so she’s kind of right in the middle of the two age groups. It feels a little middle grade, but there is also some cursing and violence, so I don’t know. Anyway, I thought it was really good!
I guess this is pushing it a little bit with the magic part—it reads mostly like realistic fiction—but there are ghosts! And there’s definitely lots of school. This ya graphic novel was really cool and well-drawn, and I like the main character—the only girl in a household with lots of brothers who’s been homeschooled her whole life and is now starting high school.
As a high school student, I felt like I could really relate to what Maggie was feeling. I also really loved the family dynamic! Maggie and her older brothers all cared about each other, and I loved seeing them interact. Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I did feel like the ending happened way too fast. It was just rushed—I felt like there should have been more pages so that everything didn’t have to be so squished together. I wasn’t sure about how I felt about the whole ghost thing at first, but I think that, ultimately, I like it. It adds this weird, sort of creepy, mysterious vibe.
Friends With Boys is a quick young adult graphic novel with a relatable protagonist and an endearing family.
Have you read any of these three books? What did you think of them? What are your favorite books that incorporate magic and school? (Other than the obvious Harry Potter, of course.)