Book Review: Punching The Air by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam

The cover design for Punching The Air by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam is absolutely stunning, so much so that it whet my curiosity about the book. When I read the blurb, I was intrigued enough to listen to a online presentation on the book. I loved the discussion of the two authors – so interesting – and was delighted when I was told I had won an ARC of the book.

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Blurb:

The story that I thought

was my life

didn’t start on the day

I was born

Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white.

The story that I think

will be my life

starts today

Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it?

My Thoughts:

I loved this book so much that I could not put it down and read the work in one sitting! The story is written in verse and packs quite a punch. While reading, I heard the voice of the main character, Amal, and sensed the rollercoaster of his emotions as he went through his experience – one which certainly brought up emotions in myself as I read the story. This is a book that made me feel anger against the injustices that are experienced by young people like Amal – young people who are judged not for their actions but by the colour of their skin.

Amal is a character that grows in the story and who experiences a range of emotions. Not only have Zoboi & Salaam have created a person who young men like Amal can relate to; they have also created one who represents the injustices experienced by this group of young men. What I like about this story as well is that it is a thought-provoking one: it encourages readers to think about social injustice and to become more aware of prejudices that exist in our society.

I recommend this book for any person to read – not only young adults. It is a novel that would be a perfect springboard for intense discussion on social justice; and the way in which art can be used as a way not only to express this injustice but as a vehicle to recognise it.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 134th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Auto Buy Author: Elana K. Arnold

When browsing at my local bookstore this past weekend, I came across a book written by an author whose debut novel I enjoyed (Damsel was a five star read for me). Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold had just hit the shelves and I picked it up eagerly.

The novel is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood and features a strong female character. I am looking forward to reading this one and have put it on my March TBR.

Have you read Elana K. Arnold’s books?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

Book Review: Infinity Son by Adam Silvera

When I was notified by the team at Harper Collins Canada that I had been chosen to receive an ARC of Adam Silvera’s first Fantasy novel, Infinity One, I was so excited I danced a little jig while smiling widely. Fantasy is my favourite genre and I had been looking forward to reading this one.

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Publication date: January 14, 2020

Blurb:

Balancing epic and intensely personal stakes, bestselling author Adam Silvera’s Infinity Son is a gritty, fast-paced adventure about two brothers caught up in a magical war generations in the making.

Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures.

Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day.

Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be.

Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed.

My thoughts:

This story is epic and I loved it! This is Silvera’s calling – to write Fantasy novels. I have enjoyed his contemporary novels but not as much as Infinity Son. The story has everything in it that I would want: magic, diversity, complicated characters, action, humanity. I savoured the words as I read them and did not want the story to end.

Infinity Son encourages us to think about sibling relationships – the dynamic of it as well as the support that is given and received. Brighton and Emil are as close as brothers can be and, even though there are moments when they want alone time, they are there for one another in a crisis. Not only does Silvera highlight the closeness of these two family members, he also notes the importance of family as a whole.

What I loved in the novel is the representation of all types of people – not matter what their sexuality or race – and that many of the characters represent people who are comfortable in their own skin. It is definitely only in an ideal that all people are accepted and raised to be accepting of who they are. We do not live in an ideal world – and neither do the characters in Infinity Son as is seen as the story progresses.

Prejudice and lack of acceptance is definitely a theme that runs through the story. The war described in Silvera’s novel mirrors the ones that humanity has experienced throughout history. Prejudice against one group of people is the root cause – a causes that is flamed by a leader who gets the masses to believe what he says as the truth.

At no time when reading this novel did I experience boredom. Infinity Son is perfectly paced and certainly believable (even though it is set in an imagined New York featuring magic). In fact as I turned the last page, I wanted more! A follow-up to Infinity Son is in the making and I am going to wait impatiently for it to be published.

The first novel in Adam Silvera’s Fantasy series is a must-read if you are a fan of the genre. And as it is Young Adult, it is perfect for the young people in your life who enjoy reading books about magic. The bonus? The story is a diverse one that seamlessly includes all types of people. This novel is definitely one to pre-order.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 101st in my book pledge for 2019)

Phoenix Lines

On Friday last week when I arrived home, I was so excited to see that I had received an ARC of Adam Silvera’s upcoming Fantasy release Infinity One from the team at Harper Collins Canada. Fantasy fiction is my favourite genre and when I heard about this series, I knew that I wanted to read it. On Friday, I admired the cover and loved the lines of the Phoenix. The ARC looks beautiful and I expect the cover of the finished hardcover will look absolutely stunning.

I have started reading the novel – I set aside my October TBR piled with no compunction. I am loving it so far! The story explores sibling relationships, being comfortable in your own skin no matter what your sexual orientation, and (I suspect) finding your inner strength. I look forward to seeing what the magical battle in New York will bring.

Have you read any of Adam Silvera’s books?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge for which we will be posting square photos featuring lines during the month of October)