Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Amari and the Night Brothers

Alston, B.B. Amari and the Night Brothers
January 19th 2021 by Balzer + Bray
ARC provided by Follett First Look

Amari has struggled in the private school she attends on scholarship because the other students are mean to her, and since her brother Quinton's disappearance, things have gotten worse. She ends up pushing another student, and due to the school's zero tolerance policy, she looses her scholarship. Her mother, a hard working single mother and nurse, doesn't know how to help Amari, so she is thrilled when Amari gets a scholarship to the same leadership camp that Quinton attended. The only catch-- Quinton has left a briefcase for Amari showing her the magical organization he was really part of, and Amari is following in his footsteps. The front for the school is the Vanderbilt Hotel, but behind the facade there is the school associate with the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Amari's roommate, Elise is nice to her, since she (as the last weredragon in existence) knows what it is like to be singled out because you are different. However, the other students at the Bureau are mainly legacies, and their families have been attached to the organization for generations. Amari finds out that her brother was a celebrity, and along with Maria VanHelsing, was part of team VanQuish. Maria has gone missing as well, and her brother, Dylan, is a student in Amari's class. Amari also finds out that she is assigned the highest badge level, but doesn't have a talent-- she is a magician. Magicians are illegal. At first, Amari thinks Dylan hates her as much as his twin sister, Lara, does, but the two soon team up to try to find out what happened to their siblings. They are also paired as a team in the elimination exams, and Dylan shares some of the same secrets that Amari has. Will they be able to pass their exams, find their siblings, and vanguish the evil powers threatening the entire bureau? The scene has been set for book two, with Jayden, a friend of Quinton's, being recommended for the Bureau's summer program. 
Strengths: Like Black and Clare's The Magisterium series, this has many elements that make it similar to the now much maligned Harry Potter. (Adults are unhappy because of Rowling's inability to keep her opinions to herself, although most tweens are blissfully unaware of this.) There are stun sticks and flying shoes, a school staff with their own secret pasts, tasty magical treats, a sorting ceremony, an underdog main character, and forces of evil trying to take over the world that can only be fought by Amari. There are also timely racial issues. I can see this acquiring a solid fan base. 
Weaknesses: This was on the long side, and could have been tightened up a bit. I also wish that the summer camp/school had a better name. 
What I really think: I do have a small bunch of students who like "academy" books, and they will love this one. I just hope the series isn't hugely long. The Magisterium, with its five short books, was perfect. 
Ms. Yingling

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