The Cybils Speculative Fiction Bookmark:
As a panelist for Cybils YA Speculative Fiction, Round 1, I'm going to be briefly writing up some of the hundreds of books I read as part of the award. As panelist conclusions are not for public consumption, the purpose of these write-ups is to keep track of what I'm reading, and will mostly touch on plot synopsis, with minimal comments on thematic tropes.
Synopsis: Ruby is a Fireblood, a girl whose gift is the use and power of flame. Her grandmother, the learned woman who taught her to read and memorize books, knew something about Fireblood's art and history, but passed away before Ruby could learn all she needed. Her mother, a master healer, just wants Ruby to hide her gift and to be careful -- for they live beneath the power of the Frostbloods, and all Firebloods are dragged to the King's arena to battle as gladiators -- or they're outright killed. Ruby's impetuous nature is like the fire's insistent heat, and when her mother is killed trying to save her, Ruby find a new direction for her rage and pain - overthrowing the evil king, and bringing the world back into a balance between fire and ice.
It is not easy for a Fireblood to master herself, and Ruby is used to giving herself the excuse that Frostbloods are emotionless automatons -- and that she will always struggle because there is more life to her. It turns out this isn't strictly true, though the Frostbloods do see her as a tool to be used in the battle against the king. For revenge, for her own reasons, Ruby is willing to be used -- until she is captured for the gladiator pits. Her ultimate destruction has to mean something more than just her own end -- and she's desperate to find a way to make a difference, any way she can... even if it means letting in evil to do good.
Reader's Advisory: The Opposites Attract trope is strong and familiar in this book, which appears to be the first in a trilogy. Romance blooms in the grip of danger, as desperate enemies unite under a common banner. There's a further thematic metaphor of the "white hats" using the darkness in the world to destroy the dark, which will likely be further developed as the series goes along. Though this is a familiar narrative structure, many teens who enjoy a more traditional Strong Female Heroine Saves The World will find this a worthy adventure for them.
I received my copy of this book courtesy of the public library. You can find FROSTBLOOD by Elly Blake at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!