Lobizona by Romani Garber has me feeling all kinds of things. I honestly don't know how I feel. Part of me really liked it, especially after I hit the 48% mark but then the ending happened and I'm confused. Please don't come here to explain to me, I got it, I just don't know. I'm so conflicted. I think the best way to review this book is with a list of what I like and what I did not like.
Things I dislike:
Even though the ending took a big chunk of pages it all felt rushed. Also, what the hell happened? So much happened and so fast that I feel we didn't get enough time to process it.
The synopsis and title spoils it. Also, people reviewing it PLEASE stop spoiling it.
A big part of this is predictable probably because of the tropes used.
The reasoning behind Cata and the guy whose name I already forgot's relationship.
I feel like the author tried to add too many social commentaries and didn't give it enough time to develop.
I feel like the characters were one dimensional.
The plot twist seemed to happen out of nowhere. I see you, Fierro.
Things I like:
The immigrant representation
How immersive the story was.
The Latinx representation
Manu's eyes and I mean it in a literal sense.
Taking my likes and dislikes into consideration I think I would give it 3.5 stars.
Woowwww. This is one of those books I've had for a while and finally read, then I'm like "Why did I wait so long before reading this???". Lobizona is also one of those books that's worth every bit of hype it's gotten. I can't wait to read book 2 because this one ended on such a high. It was an amazingly paced book with so many elements that just worked great together.
Manu, my darling Manu. I now have an exclusive list of my fave BIPOC fantasy heroines, and Manu strolled right on to that list. She is fierce, amazing, so strong, and so non conforming. I love her so much and I can't wait to see where book two takes her. Be kind to her, Romina. The book starts off with an intro to Manu's life. She's brought up in secrecy by her mom, Soledad, and her "grandma" Perla. Homeschooled all her life, sheltered away in their apartment and only able to go out while wearing mirrored sunglasses because of her eyes, Manu has so many questions. She's always been taught to be scared and live in hiding from her father's people - a father she never knew. She knows her mom is hiding secrets, but she never imagined that the secrets run so deep.
A couple of events lead to Manu running away from the life she's ever known, and ending up in a school for werewolves and witches - Lobizones and Brujas. The world she's stumbled into seems like the only place she can ever fit in, because everyone there has eyes like hers, and she doesn't need her glasses anymore. The world building here is amazing, and I love all the realms and mythologies within the world of the Septimos (pardon any misspellings, I listened to the audiobook). The problem I had with this world is the gender roles - male children become werewolves/lobizones, and female children become witches/brujas. Based on the book title, I'm sure you can guess that Manu doesn't exactly fit into this binary. Another thing that endeared me to this book is that the author herself pointed out the problem with this binary, and that's what Manu's father was trying to fight before he disappeared.
In the school, Manu is dumped on Cata by the headmistress who's Cata's mother. Saisa, Cata's best friend, is the first person who warms up to Manu, along with her brother Tiago. I enjoyed all the events that happened in the school so much. I loved Manu's bravery and her refusal to fit into gender roles and stick to the norms relating to the gender binary. I love the friendships in this book so so much, I also loved the romance written into this book, because it was so beautiful. There was also LGBT+ rep, in the form of an F/F romance.
This is a book I highly recommend, and I love it so so much. Everyone should read this book, okay?!
Moderate: Police brutalityI put police brutality as a content warning since there is not specific content warning for ICE.
Moderate: Drug use, Panic attacks/disorders, and Xenophobia
“Why be a son of the system when you can mother a movement?” Wow. What a book to read during this time of upheaval. Garber deftly deals with many issues that plague the Latine community including machismo, sexuality and immigration. She even touches on the hyper masculine nature of our language with the title “Lobizona.” Manu is a strong smart and self sufficient protagonist and this book deftly deals with traditional YA love triangle.
There are moments where the book, like Manu, wants to be more than what it is. But it is ok- this was a wonderful debut to help us begin hard conversations.
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