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May 31, 2012 Edition
New York in the late 1800s is teeming with immigrants from many cultures, and each culture has brought its own magic to the city. There’s even a special branch of the police, the Inquisitors, in charge of magical crimes, and it's in front of one of these officers that 13-year old Sacha blurts out his surprise at seeing magic worked. Not everyone can see magic, and so, after testing his Inquisitorial Quotient, the branch inducts him and a girl from an upper crust family as apprentices to Investigator Wolf. Sacha’s a little uncomfortable: he’s going to earn more money than his father! But he’s happy to be able to help his family out. Sacha is dismayed to find that their first case has the three hot on the heels of a dybbuk – and horrified to discover that the trail leads back home to his family.
Shavonne has been in the system since she was little, sometimes in foster care, more recently in juvenile detention. She has a few good memories of her childhood: she remembers how her little brother used to sleep trustingly in her arms whenever their mother disappeared, and how her father took her swimming one time, and how good it felt to walk through the park with her mom, listening to her sing. But she has many more bad memories: the accident that separated her from her brother, being sold for an evening to a man so her foster mom could buy “medicine,” watching her 2-day old daughter being taken away by a social worker. The new social worker, Mr. Delpopolo, wants to talk about it all, but how can a sad, fat, white man understand what makes Shavonne tick? With her eighteenth birthday approaching, Shavonne is about to age out of the system, but where will she go? Is there anything more to her than loss and anger and violence?
Structured as answers to college application questions, this is a quick, tight, rollercoaster read reminiscent of Adventures in Babysitting – goofy and unbelievable, but also riotously satisfying. Perry’s a senior, chafing under the work it takes to make his parents happy, applying to the right schools, hoping for good letters of recommendation, and living for the gig his band’s got – their first real one – when his mom asks him to take their dorky foreign-exchange student to the prom – the same night as the show. Asks? More like orders! His bandmates are ticked that he’s blowing them off, but Perry thinks he might be able to do both – after all, Gobi won’t want to stay at the prom once she realizes she’s standing out like a sore thumb. And he’s right, sort of. They don’t stay long and she does stand out, but not for the reasons he imagined. And then the night goes really, really wrong, and really, really right at the same time.
Are you puzzled when you hear Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet called a romance? Jay puts a whole new spin on the story, one which turns Romeo’s ulterior motives dark and selfish, with nothing of true love in them. Centuries after Romeo murders her, Juliet still exists as an agent for the immortal Ambassadors of Light, being reborn periodically in order to coax star-crossed lovers into each other’s arms. The problem? Romeo has become immortal, too, but he’s an agent of the Mercenaries, sent out to destroy sparks of true love. Ruthless and strong, Romeo usually wins. And this time around, Juliet finds a new problem – Juliet, in Ariel’s body, is falling in love with Ben, the guy she’s supposed to be pushing Ariel towards. Fans of Maggie Stiefvater will find similar themes of romance, alienation, and reconciliation here.