This second instalment of the Brooklyn Brujas series was SO MUCH BETTER than the first! Where the first book felt too fast and missed opportunities, BRUJA BORN was WONDERFUL! I felt so much closer to this character, Lula, then I did to Alex. Where Alex was quick-tempered, Lula was thoughtful. She felt how things would affect not just herself, but her family, which was one of the things that I didn't like about Alex, but all three of the sisters seem to have grown in this book.
Lula, the oldest of the Mortiz sisters, has just been broken up with before boarding the bus to the district championship soccer game with her friends and teammates. On the way to the game, there is a terrible accident and everyone is killed except for Lula. In the hospital, she and her sisters stop death from coming for Macks, Lula's (ex) boyfriend and create a much bigger problem than 28 dead teenagers-they end up keeping them all from fully dying and creating an army of "casimuertos" or non-dead people who live off of human hearts and can't pass on. Lula has to figure out how to help these casimiertos move on from this world BEFORE they destroy all of New York, and free Lady de la Muerte-Lady Death-who is trapped between worlds.
The whole "having to find the Spear of Death" piece of the story honestly felt a bit unnecessary, but I see how it made the family and community have to come together to help Lula. The scenes leading up to finding the spear and returning it to La Muerte felt rushed, but great and anticipatory nonetheless.
Overall, the book had a very familiar feel as the movie Practical Magic, but with more culture and history embedded which I appreciated. Strong female lead characters, a great family theme, and plenty of magic gave this book five stars. My favorite thing about this book that the first didn't have was how there are other magical groups at play in New York that are both for regulatory purposes but also that help keep the non-magical people safe as well as some hinting as to where Lula and Alex' father was while he was "gone."
Zoraida Cordova outdid herself with this story; my only complaint is having to wait for the next one!
I'm not entirely sure what to make of Spill Zone. It is about Addie, who rides into where a nuclear spill destroyed a town called "Po Town" (what used to be Poughkeepsie) and photographs what is left and growing in the Spill Zone. She sells her photos to support her little sister (who has a stuffed bear that seems to be possessed by something from the Spill Zone) because their parents were in Po Town when whatever happened happened. It is never really clear what exactly happened to the town. Addie gets a million dollar offer from one of the collectors who buy her art and takes it hoping that this will be the last time that she has to go in to the zone, but based on the drawings in this graphic novel, it seems that this may not be the last time she visits the Zone.
I really liked the drawings in this graphic novel as they help you to really see what and how this town was destroyed. It reminded me of a downplayed Resident Evil or Silent Hill-just as creepy, but with more conspiracy behind it. The government (or someone else) brings in a Korean boy-but the reader is never really told why other than to show that he has been touched by the nuclear radiation and wants to meet Addie, which makes there seem like there is much more going on then we are told. The book ends on a cliffhanger, which was annoying because there are still so many questions to be answered. Overall, I gave it 4 stars because it kept my attention and the drawings really save it from being lame.
Despite the length of BTDBY, I really enjoyed it. It is much darker than the rest of the Diviners series and takes the reader down a history lesson of the United States. I love the historical fiction piece as this is the time period when people were trying to "cleanse" the US of immigrants and adding the Diviners to this prejudice feels perfect for the time period. The Diviners not only have to deal with helping rid New York of ghosts that are killing people but also with prejudice against their diversity. This was a great mirror of our immigration current situation and I LOVED it! I think the conversations that this book starts will be of great importance.
Long way down by Jason Reynolds
Ended my day by reading Jason Reynolds‘ LONG WAY DOWN.
OMG YOU GUYS IT IS AMAZING! I read it in one sitting, literally could not put it down! Not only was it long listed for the National Book Award but it is going to spark some amazing conversations that I can’t wait to hear about!
Long Way Down is about Will, who’s brother was shot and killed and Will can only think of one thing: vengeance. But as he rides the elevator down to avenge his brother, people from his past appear to him to share their stories with him in hopes of influencing his decision. It is written in Free verse poems that are beautifully haunting and set the pacing and tone of the novel beautifully. Reynolds is an artist who uses words instead of paint.