Nimona by Noelle Stevenson features a hero, Sir Goldenloin, and a villain, Lord Blackheart, but as the story progresses the villain looks more like the hero and vice versa. Sir Goldenloin is employed by the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics. Lord Blackheart had his arm cut off by Sir Goldenloin in a joust. Later in the story, Lord Blackheart tells Sir Goldenloin, "What if I cut off your arm right now? Then you'd see how fast the institution would cast you aside. Just like they did me." Sir Goldenloin tells Lord Blackheart, "You wouldn't." Lord Blackheart responds with, "No, I wouldn't. And I'm the villain. What do you suppose that says about you?"
Enter Nimona! She's a young girl with bright red hair and announces to Lord Blackheart that she is his sidekick and that the agency sent her. "That makes no sense, why would they send some kid to be my sidekick?" Lord Blackheart asks and then Nimona suddenly turns into a shark! She is a shapeshifter and that is what convinces Lord Blackheart to hire her.
Throughout the story, she changes into a wide variety of shapes: dog, bird, cat, rhinoceros, elephant, monkey, boy, and dragon. She tells Lord Blackheart that a witch turned her into a shapeshifter. But at the end of the story, when she turns into a dragon that ravages the kingdom and kills the king, Lord Blackheart finally realizes that she may not be what she seems.
The illustrations in this story were fabulous!
Scythe is set in 2042. We have conquered death and "the cloud" evolved into "the Thunderhead" and everything there is to know is stored in "the Thunderhead" an artificial intelligence that is almost all powerful. Disease has been eliminated and if anyone is hurt, their nanites will protect them from the pain and heal them. People "turn the corner" - that is, they change their age to a younger age when they get old. The Age of Mortality has ended. However, one problem still remains - population control. For this reason, scythes are trained to kill people (otherwise know as gleaning) to keep the population under control.
Scythes are expected to abide by 10 laws. Law 2 states, "Thou shalt kill with no bias, bigotry, or malice aforethought." Law 6 states, "Thou shalt lead an exemplary life in word and deed, and keep a journal of each and every day."
Citra and Rowan are chosen to be scythe apprentices to Scythe Faraday. They are told that they must give up their emotional bonds to families and friends. After all Law 9 states, "Thou shalt have neither spouse nor spawn." But this proves to become complicated as their friendship becomes stronger and appears to lead to something more.
Citra and Rowan cease to be Scythe Faraday's apprentices when he gleans himself so that neither Citra nor Rowan will have to glean the other when one of them becomes a scythe. But it doesn't work. Citra becomes the apprentice of Scythe Curie. Scythe Curie is a thoughtful moral person who does her best to follow the laws and does her gleaning dutifully. Rowan becomes Scythe Goddard's apprentice. Scythe Goddard gleans for the joy of killing and goes to a Tonist cloister with the intention of killing the Tonist "rabble" and stating that "obliteration is our hallmark."
In The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, the main character, Starr, is torn between two worlds. Starr lives in a poor urban neighborhood know as Garden Heights, but goes to school at Williamson Prep. Williamson Prep is a school that is gated and is located in the affluent suburbs.
Starr acknowledges that she feels like she is two different Starrs - the Garden Heights Starr and the Williamson Starr. In her own thoughts,
"Williamson Starr doesn't use slang - if a rapper would say it, she doesn't say it, even if her white friends do. Slang makes them cool. Slang makes her "hood". Williamson Starr holds her tongue when people piss her off so nobody will think she's the "angry black girl". Williamson Starr is approachable. No stank-eyes, side-eyes, none of that. Basically, Williamson Starr doesn't give anyone a reason to
call her ghetto."
Then one fateful night after she attends a party at Garden Heights, everything changes. Khalil, her childhood friend and first crush, drives her home from the party. On their way home, a cop pulls them over and asks for license, registration, and proof of insurance. The officer shoots Khalil even though he is unarmed and cooperative.
Now Starr no longer has the luxury of keeping her two lives separate. Will she testify for Khalil? Can she find the courage to speak up? What will her friends at Williamson Prep think?
In Prophecy by Ellen Oh, our heroine Kira is the only woman in the king's army and the prince's (who also happens to be her cousin) bodyguard. Kira has an ability that no one else has - the ability to detect and slay demons who have possessed humans. But instead of gratitude, she experiences prejudice and discrimination. The people are suspicious of her and her yellow eyes and call her a "kumiho" (a nine-tailed fox demon).
Recent events such as the abduction of the prince, the discovery of the existence of half-demon and half-human soldiers, and the capture and the murder of King Yuri by Lord Shin point to the prophecy of the Dragon Musado - a royal savior who will stop the world from ending at the hands of demons. The Dragon Musado is a royal descendant of the Dragon King. Everyone assumes that the Dragon Musado is Taejo, the prince. But could it be the warrior Kira with her tiger spirit?
Kira, Taejo, and Brother Woojin meet the Eight Heavenly Maidens, who tell them, "There is a path behind the waterfall that will take you to a cave. Tomorrow, before the last ray of the sun sets on the winter solstice, a descendant of the Dragon King must enter the cave and find what has been lost."
Will they find one of the three treasures that they need to win the ultimate battle between good and evil? Will they find the tidal stone that controls the seas, the jeweled dagger that controls the earth, and the jade dragon belt? When reunited with the dagger and the stone, the belt will allow the wearer to control the fourteen dragons of the heavens and the powers of wind, rain, lightning, and all the other physical elements.
Lucy Linh, the heroine in Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung is happy and content in her life. She is a leader at her school, Christ Our Savior, and goes to school with her best friend, Linh. She takes care of her little brother, affectionately know as Lamby, and translates English into Chinese for her Chinese mother. She also helps her mother with her mother's piecework sewing. Her mother's sewing brings much needed extra money to their household.
But all of this suddenly changes when Lucy wins a scholarship to Laurinda. At first, Lucy is thrilled. This will be a wonderful opportunity for her! But life at Laurinda is not what it seems to be. Lucy doesn't know her classmates' unwritten rules of behavior and it's difficult for her to be surrounded by classmates who have grown up with so much wealth and privilege. However, that is nothing compared to her nemesis - three of the school's most popular girls, known as "the Cabinet". Lucy is intimidated by them and stands by helplessly as they play a practical joke on a teacher that causes the teacher to have a breakdown, break another girl's wrist by slamming the bathroom stall when she is in there, and falsely accuse a teacher of sexual harassment.
Has Lucy lost herself and her soul? Will she be able to find her voice before it is too late? Read Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung to find out.