Mosquitoland by David Arnold deals with issues of depression, blended families, divorce and mental illness. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is a fantasy with royal power struggles and a society divided by blood type which is an interesting concept in world building.
It’s all M’s in Mosquitoland – Mim Malone travels from Mississippi (Mosquitoland) to visit her Mother. Her parents have recently divorced, the dad remarried quickly and the new family moved to Mississippi from Ohio. Mim, a very unhappy member of these new family, hops a bus on the overdone road trip plot device of Young Adult Fiction. Of course she meets interesting, strange and dangerous people who engage her in philosophical moments as she comes to enlightenment. I found most of the characters perplexing. Although road trip fiction is a well-worn device, I do not mean to trivialize this book since mental illness is serious and Mim is an empathetic character who is coping with loss and depression.
Venturing from realistic to fantasy fiction, Red Queen transports the reader to a world of Silver elites with supernatural powers who control the Red underclass with cruel tyranny. While serving royalty in the palace, Mare Barrow discovers she has the ability to control lightning in a freak accident. Since Reds do not have powers the Queen must present Mare as a long lost Silver Princess and she becomes engaged to the Prince. The political intrigue that follows is fascinating and frightening. Mare Barrow is an intelligent, compassionate and strong female protagonist. The well edited writing and twists and turns plot devices provide an exciting and fast paced reading experience. Characterization is complex with psychological depth.
Mosquitoland and Red Queen are both notable works of teen fiction. Red Queen has similar elements of the avalanche of dystopian trilogy novels but its uniqueness stands out as Victoria Aveyard masterly inscribes an intricate world. Red Queen moves on to the next bracket.
WINNER: RED QUEEN BY VICTORIA AVEYARD
Reviewed by Mary Miller, Niles Public Library