Latina Protagonist in a YA Urban/Epic Fantasy.....two words-----Totally awesome!
I was given this book for and honest review a while back and finally got a chance to knock it off my To be read list. Looking back now I'm not sure why it took me so long to start it!It's everything I want and love in a book: A heroine that is beyond the skinny, white, tall, redhead/blonde character, a story that has a different take on vampires and werewolves and Exploring lore outside of the typical European fantasy "standard."(If I read another book that incorporates Greek or English legends, I'm just gotta hop on a spaceship to the planet Saturn and spend the rest of my days staring mindlessly into space)
As a Latina reader of Afro-Cuban descent it's really rare when i read a book in Sci-fi, Paranormal or fantasy with a Latina as the lead character. Being a black Latina opens me to a world of identifying with Black heroines in books but as far as culture, I hardly ever read any books in my favorite genres that feature girls who have a similar background to my own. So I was delighted when this author contacted me about reviewing her book. At first I was unsure, I wasn't sure if the author would be able to portray a non white character without resulting in making her seem like a stereotype, but this book is proof that any author can write from a background and incorporate cultures outside of "what they know." The choice seems to be that some authors just don't want to.*Prays to the heavens that Heather Heffner is not one of them*
The story follows Citlalli Alvarez, a 17 year old American girl who moves to South Korea with her family after her eldest sister, Marisol goes missing. She along with her other 2 sisters are expected to embrace a new language, surroundings and lifestyle accompanying their mom in their family restaurant business. Even after flying far across the globe, the threat that took their eldest sister seems to find them no matter where they go!
There wasn't a whole lot to complain about as far as the editing but i did notice the word "imaging" when I think it was supposed to be "imagining" like 2 or 3 times. Honest mistake and I'm smart so I just put two and two together!But other than that I couldn't complain, Heather obviously put a lot of research and effort into this first novel and it shows!
Let me defend my first comment by paying the book with deserving compliments!
Citlalli has been one of my favorite female characters to read this year. She was strong, fierce and it didn't hurt that she was Latina. I was really attracted to her conversation starting name because growing up I had a name just like hers. People either couldn't pronounce it or just didn't bother, so I loved the name and it's meaning!(Citlalli=star inNahuatl, an aztec language)
I loved nearly everything about this book. It introduced me to some really unique settings and legends in Korean Mythology. It always bugs me that when authors introduce different cultures in books , they always have to be told from the eyes of a "white" girl for people to want to read it. So it was interesting for all these amazing things to take place with a non white Latina as the main protagonist! I liked that Heather shed light on something that always bugged me, that being American means being "white". In a chapter, Citlalli was trying to explain to some korean classmates that she did indeed "look american" because Americans look different as opposed to S.Korea where everyone is mostly Korean. Of course they didn't really want to hear it and kept on with the ignorance but I'm glad she tried to shed some light on that!
The world building, the pacing was all action packed and descriptive!She painted a very clear picture of what she wanted readers to see! I checked out her blog and saw some images that inspired the settings and honestly, I pictured all of that!!!So her world building skills are quite in tune! The world of Eve is such an interesting place! Creepy....but interesting.
Citlalli was hmmm...really reckless and to be honest this actually worked for her! Some heroines in books are kinda always throwing themselves into danger but they always have their love interests to save the day, Citlalli on the other hand was reckless but it ended up working out in the end because it gave her the edge that she needed to take on a greater evil. If she wasn't impulsive, she would have never gotten turned into a werewolf and in result would have no way of defending herself in this world of vampires and Eve.(The spirit world) Being turned couldn't have happened to a better girl because it gave her the knowledge of the danger she and her sisters were once blind about. I think she is the kind of heroine i'd like to see more in books. She was highly relatable and I felt really close to her character due to her closeness to her family! You don't see this much in books. Usually girls in books have nothing but their love interests to care about(no close family members or family at all, best friends that they just drop at the sign of a hot boy or they're loners that don't see their own potential without a guy telling them so) so they're just driven by the love of their mate
Raina is Citlalli's best friend and younger sister. Raina has a somewhat difficult upbringing because she is the only one out of the family who has a different father and she is proof of their mother's infidelity. She is half Korean and looks "Asian", so she stands out in a family full of Latinas with thick,curly hair. I really liked her because she wanted so bad to prove she was part of their family.It's not like she could help that she had a different father and was the milk man's baby, but having a mixed race boyfriend, I saw her struggles as extremely realistic. I think she was a really good friend to have and honestly she reminded me of me and sister :)
Raphael aka Citlalli's maker....I'm actually interested in seeing where his character goes!I love that he's half peruvian and his backstory is worth the fight against the Vampires. It seems like he may end up being her love interest, and while I think their age difference makes my uncomfy(he's 23 while she's 17), I do really like him. I also like that Citlalli has a "secret"crush on him. She knows telling him how she feels would complicate things for their relationship as maker and protegee and may take her off mind of her real mission, and that is saving her sisters from the Spirit World, Eve.
This book was reallllllly diverse!It featured Asian characters, as well as Latino characters. I think because it's in S.Korea, it's hard to include black or white characters without some sort of reason. Even Citlalli was there for a "reason." But all in all I was very pleased with the outcome! Non of the characters are stereotypical at all! A must, must, must for me!
I recommend Year of The Wolf to any reader who gave up on of the werewolf/vampire trend but is looking for a book that reintroduces a different kind of werewolf/vampire set of rules as well as a Latina main character and lots of diversity