Saturday, September 3, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: The Mark of Noba (The Sterling Wayfairer Series, #1) / G.L. Tomas

TITLE: The Mark of Noba (The Sterling Wayfairer Series, #1)
AUTHOR: G.L. Tomas
PUBLISHER: Rebellious Valkyrie Press

Young Adult -- Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Alternate cover
Sterling Wayfairer just wants what every high schooler wants: to stand out as his own person. To stop being overshadowed by his athletic best friends. Maybe finally ask out his crush. But things get much more complicated when the new girl, Tetra, enters his life. For one thing, no one else seems to notice she exists. For another, he finds himself losing time... waking up in places he doesn't remember going to wondering what happened in between. And what's more, students are vanishing, and no one knows why. Eventually, Sterling tracks down Tetra, but the answers she gives him are far beyond anything he could have expected... a secret past, an alternate world, supernatural powers, and a monster out for his blood.

G.L. Tomas' young adult novel, THE MARK OF NOBA, is difficult to genre-fy. It sits in that gray area between sci-fi and fantasy... the land where superheroes and space-faring wizards live. For one thing, Sterling lives in on an alternate Earth of sorts. It feels like our Earth, in that he goes to a regular high school, lives in a regular neighborhood, and has regular teen problems (no dystopian dictator or magic lessons or anything). But there are subtle differences--the comic book-esque generic names of places (the planet is Geo, the city is City, etc), the categorization of skin tones as Type 1, Type 2, etc. based on shade rather than place of origin. And we soon learn that it's not the only one out there... in fact, Tetra is from a place called Noba, which exists in an alternate dimension. There's magic and time travel and shapeshifting monsters and superpowers... all against the backdrop of a high school life.

In that sense, it kind of reminded me of the Harry Potter books. School is still the central setting for everything that happens, and Sterling and Tetra (who both narrate) deal with both normal teen issues (dating, popularity, etc) and extranormal issues (superpowers, alternate worlds, and monsters!). Tetra eventually poses as an exchange student living with Sterling's family, and it was fun watching her try to adjust to everyday life (while still keeping an eye out for monsters).

I love love loved both characters and their somewhat co-dependent, somewhat dysfunctional relationship. They couldn't be more different... Sterling is kind of your "typical teenager," full of sarcastic comments and snarky attitude. Tetra is an alien warrior who takes everything too literally (often resulting in hilarity). And their narrations reflect this--Sterling's is conversational and sounds the way you'd expect most teens to talk while Tetra's is more formal. I really enjoyed the contrast in styles and the way it brought the characters to life.

THE MARK OF NOBA is a richly imagined, delightfully written, truly magical YA read full of drama and excitement, inviting you into a world that's both so familiar and so far from reality. I started reading it while stuck at the airport and found myself weirdly okay with being stuck in that noisy purgatory as long as I could keep reading...

Guinevere and Libertad go by many superhero aliases. Whether you know them by G.L. Tomas, the Twinjas, or the Rebellious Valkyries, their mission is always the same: spreading awareness of diversity in books. Oh, and trying to figure out the use for pocketless pants! 

They host other allies and champions of diversity in their secret lair in Connecticut.

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