Cover Image: Lobizona

Lobizona

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Member Reviews

Lobizona is a book for today, with all of the issues it so artfully explores. Yet, Romina Garber writes in a timeless and beautiful way. This is a book worthy of attention.

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I really, really loved this book. Manu, the main character, is an illegal immigrant in Miami with her mother, trying to hide from her father's crime family. Her mom is taken by ICE and Manu learns that a myth from her childhood about werewolves and witches is actually all true, and she is the first female werewolf-- a lobizona. She learns that her father was a werewolf and her mother was human, which is forbidden, and means if she's found out, she's dead. She tries to uncover the truth about her father while avoiding being discovered herself, while going to a magical school for witches and werewolves. Included are lots of great characters, an engaging story, magical sexism, and a sprinkle of magic homophobia.

This book had complex emotional depth, discussing what it means to be "illegal," what it means to be "alien," and how relationships are formed. It's also a highly enjoyable fantasy. Lobizona is a fun read! The characters introduced were pretty well-rounded, and the twists at the end were enjoyable, if a little disconnected.

The world that Garber builds is alive. I can visualize it well, and she doesn't over or under explain. Some of it can be a little clumsy, but it still works! The last 30% of the book gets a little rushed, and I think it either could have been extended or the middle could have been shortened, but it ended on a strong note. I have a love/hate relationship with book series, and I often give up after the first book, but I'll definitely be reading the next book in this series. I'm so excited for Manu and Saysa and Cata and Tiago and all their friends- the characters were the best part of the story, and I can't wait to see them again!

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Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

oh my GOSH this is BEYOND FANTASTIC. I've literally lost sleep for it. Young Adult fiction has been a necessary diversion from all the academic reading and writing I'm doing lately, but YA fiction has REALLY grown as a genre in the past few years as cultural commentary (and as such, is also appropriate educational reading for me).

Lobizona is an incredible response to ICE raids, immigration and family separation, the desire for and loss of home and the REAL and often seemingly-insurmountable reasons why people seek asylum, packaged in a delicious and fantastical world of the Septimus, beings whose powers as werewolves and witches manifest at the onset of puberty.

I really can't say enough about it right now (too busy trying to get back to writing philosophy papers). I don't want to make style comparisons - Romina Garber's beautiful work is hers and hers alone, and it's very, very necessary - but lovers of Tomi Adeyami's Children of Blood and Bone will love this, too. What a beautiful ride. Thank you again!

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My one-sentence review of this book would be: Lobizona is a four-star contemporary novel and a one-star fantasy novel. In other words, I have very mixed feelings about this book. But let’s start with the positive.

Lobizona stars Manu, an undocumented immigrant whose mother brought her to the US from Argentina when she was very young. She is bilingual, she loves to read, and she aspires to one day work for NASA as an astronaut. Particularly in the first section of the book, Lobizona explores the challenges undocumented immigrants face in America, as well as questions of identity regarding Manu’s physical differences and her father, who she knows next to nothing about.

If you strip away the fantasy elements, Lobizona is a well-written, modern young adult contemporary novel about the immigrant experience. It effectively communicates the alienation, the fear of discovery, and the unrelenting hope that defines Manu’s life as an undocumented immigrant, and it does so in a way that is both accessible to teenagers and enlightening for adults.

But Lobizona is also a young adult fantasy novel - a genre I have a fraught relationship with - and unfortunately, in that respect, it did not live up to my expectations. Although I will say, the one thing I appreciated about Romina Garber’s fantasy world was its basis in Argentinian folklore. I’m always on the lookout for fantasy novels that stray outside the typical Western European sphere of influence.

The novelty wore off quickly, however, once it became clear how utterly cliché the rest of the fantasy elements in this story were. Manu is special: the first ever lobizona (female werewolf), an only child with powers that are usually reserved for the seventh son or seventh daughter in a family. She has golden eyes with silver, star-shaped pupils (yes, seriously). Her werewolf powers include super strength and super speed, no exercise required, as well as super senses (sight, smell, hearing... you know the drill). Her transformation began at puberty and brought with it mysterious dreams of a magical world.

I decided to stop reading when the fantasy and YA clichés started to pile up about a quarter of the way into the story. I think I might be too far past my YA days to appreciate this book. Teen readers might enjoy it much more than I did.

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