A Fistful of Sky by Nina Kiriki Hoffman: This is a marvelous and deeply weird book–weird in the sense that I’m not sure if I actually liked it or not. The children of the LaZelle family are supposed to come into their power in their teens, but Gypsum alone of her siblings has reached her twenties with no power at all. She has determinedly made the best of this. But then she abruptly comes into quite a strong power, except that it’s a twisted power, a curse power. What follows is Gypsum’s attempt to come to terms with her own power and find her place in the family that had often ignored her.
It’s also, as I said deeply weird in ways I can’t explain because they would be spoilerific. Suffice it to say that some of what Gypsum has to reconcile is the deeper and darker parts of her own personality, and that the ways she does this are fairly unique. I loved the bits about the magic. On the other hand, some of the family dynamic made me uncomfortable and I can’t tell the degree to which this is intended. I’ll also mention that Gypsum is fat and fairly comfortable being fat, although I can’t really say how accurate or sensitive the portrayal is.
Bad Luck Girl by Sarah Zettel: This is the third in the American Fairies trilogy, following Callie LeRoux in her quest to find and free her parents and escape from the fairy relatives who wish her harm. I like Callie and her story, although I did feel that this third book was a little unfocused at times.
On the other hand, I really liked the way Callie’s arc in this one is all about coming into her own, learning the limits and contours of her power. She stands at the crossroads of several identities: black and white, fairy and human, and she must figure out who and what she wants to be. She also is struggling to understand the politics of the fairy courts. Despite all these shifting pieces, she is clearly herself, and also clearly wants to help others, particularly the half-fairies who the courts despise and see as a food source. I loved this, and the sense that she cares about those on the outside because she has been there herself.
Persona by Genevieve Valentine: I would like Genevieve Valentine to write all the things, please and thank you. In the first two books I’ve talked about, the power is mostly magical, or at least is magical on the most obvious level. Here, in the slightly distant future, Suyana Sapaki is the Face of the United Amazonian Rainforest Confederation. She and her country are not among the rich and powerful. She takes her job seriously, but she is not important.
But then someone tries to assassinate her, and a Korean photographer named Daniel Park saves her, despite himself. What follows is really a complex unwinding of layers and identities as both Suyana and Daniel are forced to come to terms with who they really are and where their allegiances should like. They have both been keeping secrets, and it’s hard for them to trust each other let alone the other players in the game.
What I love about this one is the sense of possibility–both that this version of the future could be exist in some alternate universe, and the potential in Suyana and Daniel as they try to not only stay alive but change the course of history.