In the 23rd century the world is a very different place. The population has dropped from 9 billion to 3 billion and the whole planet is controlled by one government. There are no cell phones or personal computers and everyone has a chip inserted into their arm so the government knows where they are at all times. People work at jobs assigned to them by the powers that be and if anyone breaks a law in this new world, it is dealt with harshly. There is no more religion or personal choice, there is just the Sovereign Regime or SR.
Many of the world’s young people aren’t happy with this way of life but it seems pointless to resist the SR’s will since they know your every move. Eighteen year old Goro and his friends Alex and Cory have found small ways to annoy the SR, such as a wristband to block their control chip’s powers and setting off explosives in a park. Their actions bring them to the attention of a small grass-roots organization with the goal of over throwing the SR. The odds are against them but with their old lives a distant memory, Goro and his friends do what needs to be done to make life better.
Sovereignty by Anjenique Hughes is a YA novel set in a post-apocalyptic future with themes of loyalty, friendship and the importance of freedom. The story is told in a fast paced manner from Goro’s point of view. Each chapter begins with a historical quote and then gets into a short history of how we got to where we are in the 23rd century. The idea of telling the history behind the story in small segments rather than having a couple of chapters devoted to setting up the story was a great idea. Anjenique Hughes knows her audience and you never get a chance to get bored with this book as it gives a history lesson, throws in some action and gives you characters that you can relate to.
This brings me to my favorite part of the book which are the characters. All of the characters come across as someone you might meet in real life complete with flaws and a good side. Take Goro for instance, he comes across like a normal teenager with a big ego and issues with authority. He is the hero of the story but he is complex because he creates a lot of his own problems. He hates the SR and wants to rebel but some of the actions he takes hurts his family and friends as much as it hurts him, though in his mind he’s always doing what’s right.
There is a point where Goro’s father finds out some horrible secrets of the SR. Goro finds out and his actions leads his family to greater danger with some drastic consequences. Even when Goro joins the resistance he still has problems with authority and questions their leadership. Even Goro’s friends complain about how he was acting. What I liked about this was it seemed like normal behavior for most teenagers. Goro has a good heart but his ego and attitude still make life harder for the people around him. Goro is a shade of grey and in the real world people have a good and bad side to them so Goro comes across as realistic.
Sovereignty is an excellent read for a YA audience or an adult audience. While reading this book I found myself comparing the SR regime to other governments throughout history, there are parallels to the Nazis and any dictatorship that has ever been. Even in the future history is always repeating itself with a crooked government rising to power and a rebel force attempting to bring them down. This is one entertaining thrill ride and the first book in a series, do yourself a favor and check it out.
Reaching YA readers
I particularly love writing for YA, because they are the future. Young Adults can be some of the most hilarious and fun people to hang around. They are insightful. They are intriguing. They keep things real. Therefore, books written for this population need to be relevant and somewhat applicable to their lives. YA are the best; I particularly like writing YA, because they don’t tolerate BS. Anything cheesy, corny, or downright dumb will receive immediate ridicule and relentless backlash. This is why it is so challenging and exciting to write a novel that stretches above the status quo for this age range.
When writing for the young adult population, it’s best to keep the conversations and dialogue interesting and realistic for this age group. With technology and video games constantly competing for their attention, a book really needs to be an exciting ride. If the book doesn’t take off with action from the get-go, they’ll be tossing it out the window in no time. I like to include nuances, witty cliché’s, and balance the humor with the serious. Developing strong characters and character relationships are important, as well as having a smooth, flowing plot. I have found that teens hate it when loose ends are not tied up in the end.
We underestimate the intelligence of YA a lot of times; they are plenty smart and can spot a phony a mile away. If the story is too predictable- that can be the kiss of death. Romance included, done tastefully, is always a plus. Coming up with a unique twist, something that hasn’t been written about or explored before can be a draw for YA as well. I also like to include a character that is somewhat rough around the edges, but who learns a valuable lesson in the end and concluding with their maturing and changing for the better. Of course, hidden positive messages and subliminal moral values never hurt!
With master’s degrees in education, special education, and counseling, Anjenique “Jen” Hughes is a high school English and math teacher who loves teaching and mentoring young people. She loves traveling and has worked with youth on five continents. Saying she is “young at heart” is an understatement; she is fluent in sarcasm, breaks eardrums with her teacher voice (students have complained when they were within earshot), and cracks sarcastic jokes with the best of her students. Her work with ethnically and socioeconomically diverse youth has inspired her to write books that appeal to a broad variety of students seeking stories of bravery, perseverance, loyalty, and success.
Arrn is a small town where most of the people live and work on a farm. It’s a different world then New York City where Honoria is from. In October of 2001, Fifteen year old Honoria had just lost her parents in the World Trade Center bombings and is now going to a new school and starting a new life in this rural community that has a dark secret. Outside of Arrn is an area of forest called Witchwood Hollow where a soul stealing witch lives.
One night two girls from the school take Honoria to the hollow and she soon finds out that there may be some truth to the old myth of a witch who traps kids who enter her domain. In the hollow it is always Autumn and when Honoria enters she has strange visions. She now believes that awakening the witch who lives there may be the key to seeing her parents again. But Witchwood Hollow is a place of broken dreams and promises from which she may never escape.
Escape From Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth has a lot going for it. The way everything is described in this book made you feel like you were there. Witchwood Hollow feels like a real place where either your dreams can come true or doom awaits. My favorite part of the book is Honoria, the way she is described in the opening chapters makes you feel for her. She is a girl going through a traumatic experience but you get the feeling that she will make a better life for herself, the question is how? Honoria in the beginning is desperately missing her parents and she is a stranger in a strange land. She is jealous of her brother who seems to have a much easier time making friends and she feels all alone even when two girls befriend her. You have hope for Honoria though as you see how she dreams about having her own fashion magazine. She may have problems in the present but she is still looking forward to the future.
This brings me to the main problem with the book, I liked Honoria so much that when the book starts to get into the witch’s story set in 1670, I found myself just wanting to get back to Honoria’s story. Then we get into a third character’s story with a girl named Albertine set in 1850. While I liked how each story related to the other I felt there was too much going on and it would have been better if it kept the focus on Honoria and didn’t include Albertine at all.
Escape From Witchwood Hollow is a book that young readers will enjoy. Honoria is a character that anyone who has moved to a new town and felt like a fish out of water can relate to. This is a visually exciting book and the main idea of what someone is willing to do when they feel lonely is handled well. Jordan Elizabeth knows how to entertain a teenage audience and she has written a good story with a twist ending that will leave you in shock.
In a world far away Guy Erma dreams of being a warrior in the Dome Elite. You could say he grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, he is not sure who his parents are, he lives with several other orphans and works hard to achieve his dream. He has a good luck medallion and has become very skilled at blades which is a fighting skill used in the dome elite.
On the other side of the tracks is Prince Teodor who is trying to find his place in the world. He is very skilled at taking care of feline creatures called gorans, but he is hoping to impress people in his kingdom by learning the art of blades. Teodor has led a pampered life but he works hard for his kingdom and despite how people feel about him, he takes his role seriously. Guy and Teodor’s world collide when Teodor is kidnapped and Guy may be the only one who can save him.
There is a lot going on in Guy Erma and the Son of Empire by Sally Ann Melia. We have action, adventure, politics and some cool half human half cyborg creatures. While this story may take place on another world there are a lot of things that are similar to ours. The idea of kids living together with limited opportunities in life and a government that is run by people who don’t care about the majority of its citizens is something most people can relate to. In this book these elements are combined with battle borgs, shape shifters, giant cats and cy-wolves.
I love the characters in this book, especially Guy and Teodor. They seem like opposites but the more you know, you see that they are very similar. The biggest difference is that they come from different backgrounds. They both work hard at what they do. Teodor doesn’t get the respect he deserves but it’s probably because more is expected from him. Some people think he doesn’t deserve his title, but you see his concern for others and how much he tries and you know he would make a good leader. Guy on the other hand gets a lot of respect but he still has limited resources at trying to make a better life for himself. There are also some good sub-plots in this book. In particular I liked how Teodor’s mother is forced into a situation that she has no control over and the choices she has to make.
This book was a little hard for me to get into, there was a lot of information thrown in during the beginning. You are introduced to several characters, locations and situations that you are not familiar with. Luckily there is a glossary at the end of the book to explain everything. I may have felt lost in the beginning but as I read on, I started to get into the story and I liked the world that Sally Ann Melia created. This is an epic Science fiction adventure that fans of the genre will love.
Some adults look at YA novels and are turned off by them because they think they are more geared towards kids. This is not true the only thing that makes YA novels different then adult novels is that they don’t have as much adult content and usually the main characters are young people. This doesn’t mean that YA novels don’t have great stories or fascinating characters. One example of this is Frontier Incursion by Leonie Rogers.
Humans crash landed on a planet they named Frontier 300 years ago. Life was hard on the planet, there were several species of dangerous animals that live there and some of the plant life was also deadly. The humans survived and adapted to the environment and built small settlements. They always said they would return to the stars some day but they liked their new home.
One of Frontier’s inhabitants is a teenage girl named Shanna, she lives on a farm with her family who breeds and raises starcats. Shanna is at a point where she needs to decide how she will contribute to society, so she decides to become a Frontier scout. The scouts job is to explore Frontier and help people in need when disasters happen. One day when Shanna and some other young cadets are exploring, they discover aliens called the Garsal creating a hive . The Garsel have plans on taking over this world and the inhabitants of Frontier suddenly find themselves in a war with a race that they know nothing about.
There is so much going on in Frontier Incursion that it’s hard to give a short description of the plot. At the heart of this book is a coming of age story. You see Shanna at the beginning as a young girl helping her parents on the farm and then you see her join the scouts. She then teaches other cadets on training starcats, learns how to deal with difficult people and learns to live in the wild and to survive under harsh circumstances. Also to a lesser extent the book follows her brother Kaiden as he learns how to master archery and take on more responsibility.
Leonie Rogers did a great job of creating some deep characters and she does an excellent job of world building. As you follow Shanna’s story, you learn more about the world they live in. You also get a look at the other people who live there and I loved how the cadets all had starcats to accompany them wherever they went. The starcats are panther like creatures with glowing marks on them which make great companions.
Frontier Incursion is an excellent science fiction fantasy tale that people of all ages will enjoy. My only issues with it was that it could have used a little more action. What this book lacks in action it makes up for in great characters and the description of a new world.
My favorite part of this story was how the inhabitants were raised to believe that it is their destiny to go to the stars again but you see how many of them don’t want to return to space and are happy on Frontier. I also liked how small glimpses are given of the Garsel, leaving the reader to realize that life is about to become hard for the people of Frontier. If you like epic Science fiction check out Frontier Incursion.
Abby Tanaka has it all. she is the creator of the manga series, Shuttle 5 and has a legion of fans. Abby has been an overnight success going from an out of work college student drawing in a notebook to having five books on the shelves with more to come. Not everything is perfect though, Abby needs help handling the business side of being an artist and author and doesn’t know where to turn.
Enter Chase Everett, a talent manager with Malloy Inc. Chase calls and offers to make Abby’s dreams come true by taking over the business side of things. Chase is just a voice over the phone and he doesn’t date clients, but Abby starts to have feelings for him. She doesn’t know what he looks like or if he’s interested in her, but she is about to find out when they meet at an anime convention. Abby’s talent is to create true love out of pen and ink, but can she do the same in her own life?
Anime Girl by Emmy Z. Madrigal is a stand alone novelette in her Sweet Dreams novel series. This book takes a look at two characters from different walks of life and finds out if they can come together. Abby is most comfortable drawing in a notebook and meeting fans at conventions. while Chase is all business. This is a fun read with likable characters and a good sense of humor to it.
I enjoyed when Abby and Chase have dinner and Abby tries to make a good impression. I also liked how the author works anime references into the story. Such as when Abby will not sign the Deathnote notebook because she will die. It was references like this that really makes this book stand out. Another good part was hearing about Abby’s writing career and everything at the anime convention. Abby is right in her element at the convention while Chase is a fish out of water, so I was really curious to see if they would come together.
The dialogue in Anime girl was excellent and it had some great lines in it such as: ” She wanted to say, Yes. You, a vat of whipped cream and a couple of hours in a hot tub.” Another line I liked was: “Chase’s voice soothed her. It reminded her of thick caramel syrup drizzled on a hot sticky brownie.” This is a short and sweet love story that takes people from different walks of life and makes a connection. If you like romances that are a little different you should like this one.