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YA Book Reviews by Amy


YA Book Reviews by Amy: Magical Realism

A genre that is well loved, but not my favorite is: magical realism. Imagine our world but something slightly magical is seen as normal—that is magical realism. I love fantasy and I enjoy contemporary books, but not mixed together. I like my fantasy reads in a created universe with well-defined magic systems with political intrigue; I tend to enjoy contemporary reads that are either light and fluffy or deep with important issues. Magical realism usually reads like a contemporary setting, but with some magic interference.

While it is not a favorite genre of mine, there are quite a few magic realism stories that are so well-written and the plot is so original that I really enjoyed these specific novels.

This list contains my must reads for any fans of YA magical realism!


Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

When Roza disappears from Bone Gap, the townspeople are not shocked—they are used to this happening, but for brothers Sean and Finn, their lives are changed. Finn is convinced that Roza has been kidnapped by a man, but he cannot remember what the man looked like and it has been haunting him ever since. Roza is trapped in a strange place by a man that wants to make her suffer. Will Sean and Finn find Roza before it is too late?

I was pleasantly surprised with this book; I had heard raving reviews by some and ranting from others. I decided to read Bone Gap for a school assignment because it won The Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature in 2016. I think that the plot is so original and compelling. Check this one out if you like a strange mystery.

Available as an eAudiobook Overdrive, eBook and eAudiobook on Hoopla, and in the library* for checkout.


The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater

Blue comes from a family of psychics and this year she meets a strange boy named Gansey; Gansey is on the quest to find the ley lines connected to a lost history and Blue may have the answers. Joining Blue and Gansey on their mission are Gansey’s friends: Adam, Noah, and Ronan—the Raven Boys. As this adventure is making Blue and Gansey become close, Blue remembers the dire prediction that Blue’s true love will die. Will denying her feelings and being cold toward Gansey be enough? And will this ragtag group of friends find a long-lost Welsh King?

This book was a lot of fun! This cast of characters are lovable and frustrating all in the same breath; romance and friendship are at the forefront of this book series. If you enjoyed this book, fear not, because this is the first book in a four-book series. You can continue reading The Raven Cycle with: Dream Thieves, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, and The Raven King.

Available as an eAudiobook on Overdrive and Hoopla, and in the library* for checkout.


Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour

Mila has felt lost ever since entering the foster system when she was fourteen; now she is eighteen and she applies to The Farm as a school teacher. The Farm is a place where a couple has been known for taking in children and adopting them. Mila hopes to find family in the loneness she feels, and she must face her past to be able to move on.

I thought Watch Over Me was an amazing book! It is a character deep-dive into the past and how it effects the present and potential future. It was an insightful read that packs a punch even though it is quite short. Plus, the cover is gorgeous.

Available as an eBook on Overdrive and in the library* for checkout.


Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Jam has a loving relationship with her parents—they have always been understanding and there for her. When Jam’s mom paints this amazingly scary image of a creature and Jam accidently adds her blood to the piece, the creature becomes sentient. Named Pet, Pet can read Jam’s thoughts and gives her new insight on her family and friends. Jam seems to trust Pet, but should she?

This was a tough read that delves into many difficult topics, but it is written in such a powerful way that can start important conversations. A quick read that will leave you thinking afterwards.

Available in Overdrive and in the library* for checkout.


Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Ellie lives in a world not-so-unlike our own, expect the paranormal is normal and known to everyone. Ellie can communicate with the dead and potentially bring the dead to life with her touch. When she receives a message from her cousin that he died at the hands of a man named Abe Allerton, she knows that there are larger plots surrounding this quiet Texas town. Ellie wants justice for her cousin and his family, so her family and friends begin to investigate what really happened that night; all they know is that the story and the truth are two different things.

Elatsoe is a great combination of paranormal fiction, mystery, and magical realism. Ellie is such a strong character and I absolutely loved that she worked alongside her parents to solve this case. The connection she has with her Native American culture, particularly the tales of her six-great grandma, were amazing.

Available on Overdrive and Hoopla.


The Disappearances by Emily Murphy

When Aila and Miles’ mother dies, they are sent to the hometown of their mother to live with a family friend. The siblings begin to notice that every seven years something disappears from the town: smell, stars, and reflections. The townspeople believe that the mother had something to do with the disappearances as she is the only one not affected by these changes. Will Aila find out what is going on and how her family is connected to these disappearances?

I have not yet read this book yet, but fellow librarian: Ms. Sarah has read it and recommended it countless times for me. It sounds so different and interesting that I have placed it on my TBR (To Be Read) list.

Available on Hoopla, and at the library* for checkout.


Dig by A.S. King

Five teens have seemingly nothing in common other than the fact that their families are falling apart, and the mysterious wealthy Hemmings family is involved. The Shoveler watches his single mother struggle with money as he takes odd jobs here and there. The Freak has supernatural abilities that can transport her away from her sad family situation. CanIHelpYou? is a fast food drive-thru worker that is selling more than just food at her window. Loretta the Flea-Circus Ring Mistress talks to the fleas that flood her home. And First-Class Malcolm has been living between the United States and Jamaica ever since his father is diagnosed with deadly cancer.

Dig is truly a strange tale that does not shy away as an uncomfortable read. What I really enjoyed about Dig the most is the mystery surrounding these bizarre characters and how their different storylines connect and intermingle. Reading the beginning of this book there are so many questions and the readers only receive pieces of the story. As the story continues these pieces come together into a whole story that is shocking. This novel is a very satisfying read.

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.


Hello everyone! I’m Amy and I am a Youth Services Librarian at the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. When I’m not trying to reach my reading goal for the year, I like to talk about what I’m reading to my family, friends, and coworkers. You could say I am a little obsessed with reading Young Adult books. I enjoy most genres, but my favorites include: Westerns, Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Fantasy, and Mystery. I am always looking for the next great book that makes me connect to its characters and hits me in the feels.