Monday, March 24, 2014

Debut Series: Alienated, Half Bad and Defy

New series by debut authors or authors new to young adult literature are always exciting discoveries.  One wonders if the series will be huge successes like Veronica Roth's Divergent series or Lauren Oliver's Delirium series, or if they will languish on remainders tables. This month I am recommending three new series that I hope will find an audience. Alienated by Melissa Landers, explores what might happen when alien exchange students come to Earth.   Sarah B Larson's Defy introduces a familiar story about a girl who must pose as a boy to survive, but the plucky heroine and the unexpected twists make it a fun read. Finally, Half Bad by Sally Green imagines a world where two factions of witches  Black and White, battle for dominance.

In Alienated high school student Cara Sweeney is chosen to host the first alien exchange student, Aelyx, on Earth. Not only will she get a college scholarship, she will also get to visit his planet L’eihr. What she doesn't anticipate is the prejudice against the L’eihrs and the danger it creates for her and Aelyx. As one by one her friends abandon her, she turns to Aelyx for love and support, but he is harboring secrets plans with deadly consequences. Will his love for her persuade him to abandon the plot, or will his loyalty to his planet prevail? Aelyx's fish out of water behavior and Cara's initial annoyance with him, followed by their slowly developing affection for each other, are just a few highly entertaining  plot elements in this refreshingly new exploration of prejudice. 

Taking place in the war torn kingdom of Antion, Defy, chronicles the story of Alexa, who, after her parents are murdered, must disguise herself as Alex to avoid being sent to the breeding house.  She and her brother Marcel join Prince Damian's elite guard, where her sword-fighting skills, coupled with her emerging magical powers, make her a force to be reckoned with.  When Marcel, the only one who knows her secret, is killed, she doesn't know who to trust.  Then a visiting sorcerer kidnaps her, the Prince and her fellow guard Rylan, in the hope of finding a way to negotiate an end to the war.  As the three are held prisoner, Alex is faced with her emerging romantic feelings for both men, as well as her conflicted emotions about her duty to serve the king, whose plans are not in the country's best interest.  All is not as it seems in this story of political intrigue and romance.

Although Half Bad was not my favorite of the three series, it probably has the best chance of success, as it has already been optioned for a movie by Fox Searchlight and rights have been sold in 27 countries.  The series, which is set in a modern day London filled with witches, introduces Nathan, a Half Code, a half white, half black witch.  His father, Marcus, who is the world's most powerful black witch, has been absent Nathan's whole life and his mother is dead.  After being forced to go through yearly evaluations to determine whether he is a black or white witch, Nathan is finally locked up in a cage and tortured by the witch council, which is hoping to persuade him to kill his father.  Nathan escapes and begins the hunt for Marcus, so that he can convince him to bestow upon him the three gifts promised to witches when they turn 17. The first book in the new trilogy sets up a world where the forces of good and evil are ambiguous at best, yet Nathan is an anti-hero that readers can root for.

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