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Book Reviews

Book Review: Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Series: Supernatural Investigators #1
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Quotes: (see end of post)

ABOUT: Quinton Peters was the golden boy of the Rosewood low-income housing projects, receiving full scholarship offers to two different Ivy League schools. When he mysteriously goes missing, his little sister, 13-year-old Amari Peters, can’t understand why it’s not a bigger deal. Why isn’t his story all over the news? And why do the police automatically assume he was into something illegal?

Then Amari discovers a ticking briefcase in her brother’s old closet. A briefcase meant for her eyes only. There was far more to Quinton, it seems, than she ever knew. He’s left her a nomination for a summer tryout at the secretive Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Amari is certain the answer to finding out what happened to him lies somewhere inside, if only she can get her head around the idea of mermaids, dwarves, yetis and magicians all being real things, something she has to instantly confront when she is given a weredragon as a roommate.

Amari must compete against some of the nation’s wealthiest kids—who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives and are able to easily answer questions like which two Great Beasts reside in the Atlantic Ocean and how old is Merlin? Just getting around the Bureau is a lesson alone for Amari with signs like ‘Department of Hidden Places this way, or is it?’ If that all wasn’t enough, every Bureau trainee has a talent enhanced to supernatural levels to help them do their jobs – but Amari is given an illegal ability. As if she needed something else to make her stand out.

With an evil magican threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.

 

My Review: Amari and the Night Brothers is an incredible story you just have to read. I loved every moment of it. The plot hooked me, completely mesmerized by the world Alston created and deeply inspired by Amari’s fighting spirit.

Amari Peters is a young, Black girl from the projects. She is bullied (particularly by this one spoiled rich girl) at the private school she attends because of where she comes from (a bad neighborhood), her race, and economic status (she got in on a merit scholarship). So she feels like an outsider looking in with no place to belong and no particular talent to speak of, even in the hidden supernatural world. Add the fact that her older brother was popular and a shining star at both the private school and within the supernatural world and Amari also feels overshadowed. Although she is frustrated with having to prove her worth every day, she tries her best to keep calm and carry one. That’s what I love about Amari’s character. I love her determination to disprove people’s assumptions and fears about her.

She’s very relatable on so many levels. It was sad to watch her struggle against the constant animosity, prejudices, and hatred thrown at her by people who don’t know her because she has an illegal ability. Amari is a kind, bright girl but people can’t see past the color of her skin and or her ability. But as I said before, this girl is a fighter (dare I say young, scrappy and hungry? lol). She boldly takes on the toughest tryout for the most dangerous department/occupation in the Bureau in order to find her missing brother. She is much more than what society chooses to define her as. Her growth is exponential and amazing to witness.

The supernatural world is in part governed and regulated by the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs – how cool is that name?! It’s a unique world full of all sorts of creatures, professions/departments, and a really cool “summer camp.” The Bureau’s history is also really interesting, such as the truth about myths, legends, people and events. It’s all hidden from humans so that supernaturals can be themselves and not live in fear. They secretly exist alongside humans. My favorite thing about the Bureau are the talking elevators with personalities. The departments that trainees can try for are creative and Alston enhances them with such rich details.

There is a lot of action, drama, and tension throughout the book and I was utterly captivated. So many twists and turns that kept me guessing as to how they would stop the bad guys (who are super interesting characters), if the Bureau could be hiding something (secrets galore!), and if Amari would ever find her missing brother and his partner (renowned agents). I liked all the characters no matter how big or small their role was. The befuddling mystery was epic, the climax out of this world, and the resolution exquisitely satisfying.

Amari and the Night Brothers is breathtaking perfection. There are not enough stars in the sky that I could bestow upon it – it was so good! My heart loves this story and all the characters. This was the middle grade story I didn’t know I needed and that had everything I wanted in a stellar fantasy story.

I am so glad this is the start of a series because I am not ready to say goodbye to Amari and the new world she finds herself in. As much progress as she makes, Amari still has a lot of growing up to do and potential to expand upon. I want to see how she will continue to change both worlds for the better.


Favorite Quotes:

  • “I know it’s unfair, but the truth is that when you’re a poor Black girl from the ‘Wood, certain people are gonna already have it in their minds what type of person you are. You can’t give them a reason to think they’re right.”
  • “I smile a little. Am I prepared for that? It’s kind of like how being a Black kid from he projects makes Mr. Jenson feel the need to watch me extra close every time I come in his store. Or how surprised my scholarship interviewers were that I could speak so well. People assume stuff about you based on things you can’t change about yourself. So I just do my best to prove them wrong, to be the person they’re not expecting. Amari Peters, changing minds one person at a time.”
  • “And Agent Fiona nearly caused an international incident when, as a Junior Agent, she greatly offended the Origami Hive Mind by insisting that scissors beats paper in a game of rock, paper, scissors.”

2 replies on “Book Review: Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston”

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