Many YA books include the juxtaposition of darkness and light. In many cases, authors use darkness and light as a metaphor for good and evil or right and wrong. Here are a few recent examples I recommend.
Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen
Teriana has lived almost her entire life on a ship and she’s now the second mate under her mother. Her people protect the secrets of the seas. They have one mandate – East must never meet West. When Teriana breaks this mandate the consequences are devastating. She is forced to transport the most notorious legion in the Empire of the East across the ocean to conquer the West or her people will pay the price.
Marcus is the commander of that legion. He is hiding his own secrets and one of these is being used as leverage to blackmail him. To keep this secret and protect their people, Teriana and Marcus must work together.
This book was a compelling read. The author said aspects of the story are loosely based on ancient Rome. As a reader it was really fun to connect the story to Roman history. It’s interesting to follow the development of Teriana and Marcus’ relationship. They are both fiercely loyal to the people in their lives, and they both have secrets that lead to decisions that they regret.
This book is an engrossing story about families, both biological and the ones we choose.
Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
Maia is the youngest child of an aging famous tailor. She dreams of being the Emperor’s tailor, a job reserved for men alone. When her father receives an invitation to compete to become the new tailor for the emperor she knows he is not up to the task. Maia disguises herself as a man and travels to the palace in his place. While the challenges are hard, nothing prepares her for the impossible final challenge – to sew magical garments known only from stories.
This book seems like a retelling of Mulan with a dash of Aladdin thrown in. I mean this in the best way possible. Maia has to overcome the fact that she lives in a society that sees women’s role to get married and have children. Maia dreams of much more. This book also highlights the importance of family. Maia’s family is her motivation as she takes the ultimate risk in taking her father’s place. She knows she will be killed if she is discovered.
If you like magic and re-tellings, this is the book for you.
Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood
Asa is the youngest daughter of the House of Fane. Her world’s supply of food and fuel are drying up. To solve the problem Asa’s sister Wren pledges to marry the heir of the House of Westlet, Eagle. When Wren falls victim to the Blight that is killing their planet, Asa decides to take Wren’s place. If only solving their problems was that easy.
It’s fun to watch Asa and Eagle’s relationship develop. Eagle comes across as brusque. Asa seems naïve. In the end, he helps her to grow and expands her knowledge of the rest of the world. She helps him to really feel for the first time. They are each other’s match, even if it doesn’t feel like it in the beginning. My main critique of the story was that I thought it was building up to an epic ending, however, the actual ending felt really rushed. The author put so much effort into building the world that the ending was unsatisfying. At times, it felt like the story was less important than making sure the reader understood the setting. Otherwise, this was a fascinating story!
This is a great book for readers who like to see relationships form and build.
What are some of your favorite Young Adult reads?