by Donna Barba Higuera
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Pub Date 03 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 26 Sep 2023
The next stunning novel from Donna Barba Higuera, author of Newbery and Pura Belpré Award-winning The Last Cuentista
This is the story as it was told to me by Leandro the Mighty.
For 400 years, Earth has been a barren wasteland. The few humans that survive scrape together an existence in the cruel city of Pocatel – or go it alone in the wilderness beyond, filled with wandering spirits and wyrms. They don’t last long.
13 year-old pickpocket Leandro and his sister Gabi do what they can to forge a life in Pocatel. The city does not take kindly to Cascabel like them – the descendants of those who worked the San Joaquin Valley for generations.
When Gabi is caught stealing precious fruit from the Pocatelan elite, Leando takes the fall. But his exile proves more than he ever could have imagined -- far from a simple banishent, his consciousness is placed inside an ancient drone and left to fend on its own. But beyond the walls of Pocatel lie other alebrijes like Leandro who seek for a better world -- as well as mutant monsters, wasteland pirates, a hidden oasis, and the truth.
From Donna Barba Higuera, Newbery and Pura Belpré Medal-winning author of The Last Cuentista, comes another novel to astonish us and create a whole new imaginative world, that holds a mirror to our own.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 39 members
What a phenomenal book. Donna Barba Higuera has such talent, I get so lost in the world she creates. This book will fill you with hope and love even in the darkest of places. Leandro’s story will stay with me for quite some time.
Could not put down incredible book, Alebrijes! It’s a tale of hope, perseverance love and friendships. I would recommend this book to my middle schooler’s with the hope they take its message to heart.
Amazing. Powerful. Socially aware and vitally important. This book is a must read.
First the story: Excellent writing and storytelling. This dystopian world is vividly detailed—you can feel the desolation and despair that surrounds the society. The characters were beautifully polished. And towards the end of the book I was crying—not just once, but again and again. And the ending... I never saw it coming!
Then the subtext: Beyond the actual story, there is so much to unpack in this book. It is a social commentary on racism, a reminder to question everything (especially the propaganda of those in power), and a warning about the corruption of social infrastructure (those with the most power/money/influence protecting and promoting themselves while actively trying to subvert everyone else). I can see this becoming a classic in the same veins as Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World.
This book is next level.
When I noticed this book was by Donna Barba Higuera I couldn't resist it. The cover and the title are amazing and after her previous work, this author is an auto-buy. I even collect the Spanish version.
This one won't disappoint us again. The author's style is courageous and creative, she's a Frida Khalo of middle grades when it comes to combining symbolism, magic realism, modernism, and surrealism.
We're presented with a future Earth where children are far from being safe and protected in this upper middle-grade dystopian story. Without presenting many spoilers, we have a brother and a sister who want to escape the lies and laws of those ruling Pocatel who punish the citizens for lying, stealing and cheating, but it goes wrong. The book has a slower start, but when we reach chapter 10 about 30% it just picks up in a way that we can't put down because the siblings are facing ordeals that will keep you turning the pages.
All of it is infused with a lot of Latino culture and heritage, including the alebrijes, the dances, the cascabels and that is just the very first chapters. We're in for a physical and spiritual journey.
Explores themes like survival, migration, resources, justice, family, heritage, memory, and history.
Thank you NetGalley and publisher for this Arc. My opinions are honest and my own.