Monday, January 13, 2014

Reading on a Theme: Girls Disguised as Boys

They are resourceful, plucky, and, in many cases, out of options. They are girls disguised as boys.

First in a New Series:
Defy by debut author Sara B. Larson is the story of Alexa who, disguised as a Alex, serves as a guard for the prince of Antion, a country at war. Alexa guards prince Damian because it's her duty, but she's pretty convinced that he is smug, stuck-up, and wimpy. Things are, of course, not as they seem, and more than one person wears a mask. The adventure in Defy is solid, the stakes are definitely high, and a lot happens. There are multiple layers of secrets, and the pace at which they are revealed is good. I liked that Alexa is a darn good sword fighter and able to hold her own. Here's hoping that Larson can make this fantasy series truly epic. Defy is out January 7, 2014 Review copy from NetGalley.
Steampunk World War I:
Leviathan is set during an alternate 1914. The world is on the brink of war. Alek, the son of murdered Archduke Ferdinand and Princess Sophie, must run for his life in his Stormwalker--a giant, mechanical war machine that walks on two legs. Deryn is a Scottish girl who disguises herself as a boy so that she can join the Air Services. The two cross paths aboard the Leviathan, the crown jewel of the British Air Force, a giant hydrogen airbeast, fabricated from the DNA of hundreds of animals. I loved Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan Series. The books are a fantastical romp around the world, from England and Austria to Switzerland and the Ottoman Empire to Russia and the United States. I wish I could read more about this amazing setting and the characters who populate it.

Fantastical China:
Eon is competing to become a Dragoneye. He is one of the few that can see the Energy Dragons. As a Dragoneye he will commune with his Energy Dragon to help control the forces of nature. The thing is, Eon is really Eona, a girl, and she doesn't just see one Energy Dragon, she sees them all. All that is, except the Mirror Dragon, who was lost eons ago.  Alison Goodman creates a captivating and complex world in Eon. The twelve Energy Dragons correspond to the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Although I can understand her hesitation and fear due to the danger of being a woman in a man's world, I often wished that Eona would own up to her true self. I want Eona to really embrace her true self and her power.

Magic in the Regency Period:
Kim, of A Matter of Magic (Mairelon #1-2) by Patricia Wrede, knows life on the streets only holds a few options for a young girl so she lives her life disguised as a boy, thieving her way through the busy city. However, when she’s sent to steal from a mysterious travelling magician, her life is turned upside down. Mairelon offers to train Kim in the ways of magic and together they work to clear Mairelon’s name. This alternate history is part mystery and part fantasy and will leave you wondering how everything will come together.
The Classic Fantasy:
I could not write a post about girls disguised as boys without including Alanna, who, for me, is the ultimate girl in disguise. In The First Adventure Alanna and her twin brother Tom switch places so that Tom can get a magical education and Alanna can train to become a knight in a world where there is no such thing as female knights. The Song of the Lioness series is a great introduction to master story-teller Tamora Pierce's Tortall, which at present, spans 18 books with more to come. Alanna holds a special place in my heart and on my bookshelves. 


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