Cover Image: Lobizona


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Member Reviews

Garner has written an incredible book that weaves fantasy with important current issues. Young readers will be fascinated by Manuela’s world and will be enthralled with this magical realism story. Highly recommended.
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This book is set in dual places, Miami and a series of fantastic/magical/folkloric realms that are open only during specific times of the month that correspond to moon phases.  In Miami with her mother, Manu Azul is not allowed to really leave the house or have a "normal" life.  Her mother fights to keep her protected and demands that she always wear sunglasses since Manu's eyes are quite different from everyone else's; they have large golden suns on/in them.  After threatening ICE raids on her neighborhood and building, a mysterious couple of people who seem to be spying, strange red clouds of mist, an 'attack' on her dear Perla, and her mother's secret occupation in the city Manu flees Miami and goes into the Everglades.  Once there, she enters into a different realm that isn't sticky with Florida humidity and where strange animals and insects roam.  As she enters, she is told to show her huella.  Once she begins to make friends and fall into a world she seems to fit into, chaos ensues and secrets begins to tumble out not just about her new friends and classmates, but also who Manu is and her mysterious father, Fierro.

When I read this synopsis of this book I fell in love with it and how diverse and truly magical the story seemed to be.  The author writes in her note that she was so in love with an inspired by Hogwarts, that she wanted to write something that also had the accepting and magical feel to it.  This book is somewhat successful of this, my only hesitation being that this book covers so little of the actually school where Manu ends up.  This isn't a bad thing at all, I just expect and can't wait for more books that do continue on the world building that this sort of story and setting require.  For the first book and opening of a series, this book does a great job setting the scene for both realms and introducing readers to a new and different magical/fantastical system that is based in Argentine folklore. 

On the same note, I love how lush and vibrant this world and this book are!  Garber has a skill for writing about colors and textures and describing these magical settings in ways that are almost tactile.  For me, this is something that really makes this book and story one to remember and fall in love with.  I love the way she describes even the most seemingly mundane things such as drinking yerba.  There is an intimate and deep recognition of Argentine culture and folklore and is woven throughout this story and I really appreciate those small things such as the incorporation of yerba and how the play into both the larger book and the larger Argentine culture outside of the book.  

On a similar note, the cover art for this book is some of the best and definitely one of my favorites.  It is so beautiful and packed with colors and textures.  It also makes sure to highlight Manu and her stunning eyes as well as a wolf.  The cover art helps me to imagine what the magical realms would look like, as well as steep this story even further into its folkloric roots and basis.  

As far as the story itself and the technical writing, I feel like there is a lot of intense foreshadowing about what or who Manu is with the usage of the moon phases and the weird monthly issues she has.  I did appreciate that it wasn't just stated up front though.  It an interesting story with interesting characters.  I am upset that Manu ends up falling for a guy, who also happens to be the alpha of the group.  I get it, people still want to read this storyline but I feel like more could have been done with it, especially considering who or what Manu is.  I was appreciative of the same-sex couple (although they were in secret for a long time).  I was glad to see that bit of representation, but honestly there could have been so much more.  I completely get it though, this is a first novel and there is still many other stories and characters to both tell and develop throughout.  Hopefully the representation will continue and it won't be a cut and dry male/female sort of adventure.

Lastly, something that I really appreciate was how Garber chose to talk about both history in Argentina and the current ICE raids happening in the United States.  Using media such as fiction and fantasy books is a fantastic way to bring both history and current events to readers.  It casts these subjects in lights that aren't boring and one-sided, but gives you a character to follow, connect with, and think about.  Books like this, for me, are much more successful when it comes to spreading a message or teaching a lesson either based in history or current day.  Garber makes some blatant statements in her afterward, but is also very eloquent in the book when it comes to talking about these things.  I liked that she incorporated some intense statements near the end of the book and seems to want people to think about those tough things.  There were plenty of times where I was either screenshotting a really good quote or writing down something that I wanted to remember from this book.  There really are some good pieces to keep with you all throughout this book.  

Overall, this was a fun and colorful book packed with some interesting characters, dynamic plot lines, and tons of right history and folklore related to Argentina.  It also works really hard to use a lot of Spanish and colloquialisms throughout, which really took the cake for me.  It just helped to round this story out even further and made it feel so real.  It was obvious the time and love that the author put into this book.  I feel like this book, when it is published (May 5, 2020) is set to be quite a hit.  I can't wait to see what others think about it!
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This is one of the BEST books I have ever read! Not only is it prevalent to today’s world but I absolutely loved each character (well, maybe except Carlos...) and, as a woman, it made me feel like I could do anything.  Thank you, Romina Garber, for writing one of the greatest books I’ve ever read. Now I just need book 2!
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"Why settle for being a son of the system, when you can mother a movement"

first i want to thank Netgalley and Macmillan for the E-arc as a Hispanic i am trying to read more books written by Latinx authors and i was so happy to receive this and will be buying a physical copy when it comes out.

Lobizona is a Argentina Folklore set in our time with Werewolves and Brujas. Werewolves are only males and brujas are only female but there is Manu who is a werewolf living in hiding and doesnt even know who she is. 

This read hits you with todays reality of immigrants living in fear of ICE as Manu and her mother do, also equality, and sexism is discussed in here. its what i loved about this book, even with the fantasy involved it really hit you with the ugliness that we still deal with today.

Manu doesnt know what she is until she has to run from people after her and stumbles into a magic school. She has to lie to hide her identity which leads to more problems but also helps her find who she truly is along the way. She is making a name for herself. She is a hybrid, Half werewolf half human which is illegal in the magic world so her friends do everthing to help hide her identity. The school reminded me of Hogwarts but i really dont want it to be compared to HP because this is a whole different story, a whole new world with POC characters and just all around amazing. I love the main character who never felt like she had a home only to realize she now has two homes and i love how she is discovering who she is and finding her place in both worlds. 

There are queer characters in this book which i loved, i want to say more but dont want to ruin it for readers just know this is one of my newest favorite reads and i can not wait for book two! but i highly recommend this book to everyone.
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I really enjoyed the way the Romina Garber told this story. Its such a great idea and so well done as well. It's also the perfect time to be telling a story like this. Manu was a fantastic character to follow and I love the way the magic was weaved into this story about immigrants and ICE. I do have to admit, the pacing was a little fast in the beginning, but it honestly works itself out as the story goes on. I think what I liked most about this book was that it wasn't afraid to tell the story.
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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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