I am so honored that I was gifted an eARC of Romina Garber’s Lobizona and given the opportunity to be a part of this blog tour arranged by Wednesday Books! This novel was such a fun and addicting read, and I can’t wait to tell you more about it below!
ABOUT THE BOOK
by Romina Garber
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: August 4th, 2020
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Age Category: Young Adult
Some people ARE illegal.
Lobizonas do NOT exist.
Both of these statements are false.
Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.
Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.
Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past—a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.
As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.
Romina Garber’s Lobizona sucked me in and didn’t let me go, to the point where I could barely part with it for more than a short period at a time and ended up devouring the majority of the book in a single day.
My favorite part of this novel was the numerous themes that Garber wove into the story. Not only does she chronicle the daily struggles of being an undocumented immigrant, but she challenges misogyny and systems rooted in a gender binary through the paranormal world of witches and werewolves. Alongside this, we see Manu struggling with the personal battles of taking control of her own destiny and happiness, finding a place where she fits in, and learning how she wants to make her mark on the world.
Another one of my favorite aspects was the Argentinian folklore–inspired paranormal world that Garber crafted! Enchanting details of this world threaded their way onto every page, causing me to fly through the book at an increasing speed. I will say that some areas of the worldbuilding did feel a bit lacking in depth, but this may be a combination of me devouring the book and missing details and Manu still learning about the world. I cannot wait to see this magical world further explored in the sequel!
And not only did Garber bless us with this captivating, hidden world, but she gave us a fellow book nerd and fangirl as a protagonist! As Manu spent most of her days home-schooled under Perla (a grandmother figure in her life), it’s clear how important literature has become to her. Throughout the novel, Manu regularly compares herself and her circumstances to literature, whether it’s Harry Potter or Jane Austen. Another thing that I adored about Manu (and her friends) was that they’re unapologetically feminists, repeatedly challenging micro-aggressions and gender stereotypes. ALSO, there was a surprise f/f side couple (and potentially some additional queer characters that have yet to come out) that just made me so happy!
The only thing that I found that didn’t work for me was the insta-love romance. Manu is quickly drawn and infatuated with her love interest, and I think I would have preferred to see her more focused on exploring this new world of brujas and lobizones. The two seemed to make a decent couple, but I just wished their timeline hadn’t been so rushed.
Overall, I adored this book, and I definitely recommend it to lovers of YA, witches, werewolves, or paranormal fantasy in general! Lobizona is a beautifully balanced book between its relevant conflicts, fun boarding school setting, and captivating worldbuilding, making it a valuable contribution to the YA curriculum.
Trigger Warnings: a misogynistic and homophobic society, sexism, a brief physical assault, a capture and physical abuse by ICE
Rating: 4 stars
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ROMINA GARBER (pen name Romina Russell) is a New York Times and international bestselling author. Originally from Argentina, she landed her first writing gig as a teen—a weekly column for the Miami Herald that was later nationally syndicated—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Her books include Lobizona. When she’s not working on a novel, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.