In Cazadora, the follow-up to Lobizona, Romina Garber continues to weave Argentine folklore and real-world issues into a haunting, fantastical, and romantic story that will reunite readers with Manu and her friends as they continue to fight for a better future.
Romina Garber is a NYT/International Bestselling YA author who also writes under pen name Romina Russell. Born in Buenos Aires and raised in Miami, Romina currently resides in Los Angeles but would much rather be at Hogwarts. As a teen, Romina landed her first writing gig—“College She Wrote,” a weekly Sunday column for the Miami Herald that was later picked up for national syndication—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core. For more information about her books, follow her on Twitter/Instagram: @rominagarber.
Cazadora is the highly-anticipated sequel to Romina Garber's 2020-YA Fantasy release, Lobizona; both part of the Wolves of No World series.
I say series, when in reality, I have no idea how many books are set to be released in this world. I'll tell you one thing though, after the stunning conclusion to this book, I know there's a heck of a lot more story to tell!
Manuela Azul, Manu to her family and friends, knows what it is like to be different and to be judged for her differences.
As an undocumented person living in Miami, Manu was constantly under stress of detection and persecution. Unfortunately, due to her hybrid nature, Manu is also judged and persecuted within the magical world of Argentinian folklore, a great part of her heritage, as well.
Whereas the first book had quite a bit of the narrative set in our world, this volume focuses more on the magical world and Manu's place within it.
As her new-found friend group supports and builds her up, they are simultaneously being hunted by the authorities. Manu's very existence challenges all the rules of their culture.
She's a threat and they'll stop at nothing to capture her and take her out. Will Manu be able to evade them and keep those she loves safe?
I really enjoyed my time reading Cazadora and overall, found it to be an improvement over the first book. The magical world, in particular, was built out so much more and I felt the stakes were truly raised for Manu.
While the fantasy elements of this story aren't necessarily my favorite, where Garber truly excels is in capturing emotion. Manu's situation is extremely difficult and reading her working through it, oh man, I felt everything she was feeling. She is so tough, but everyone can feel vulnerable and defeated at times.
This is an inspiring story. Manu gains strength when she realizes the causes she is fighting for are so much larger than herself.
Garber did a fantastic job of weaving real-world issues into this otherwise fantastical tale; which is true of the first book as well. Stories like this are so important.
I feel like Readers, who may have previously struggled to find themselves within the stories they are reading, can find themselves here and that's a special thing.
I would love to see more in this world, with this phenomenal group of characters. The further I go along, the more attached I am getting to them all!
Thank you so very much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy of the audiobook to read and review.
Romina Garber is a star and I know she is going to continue to grow with everything she writes. I am certainly willing to go along for the ride!!
Blending Argentine mythology with searing commentary on sexism, homophobia, colorism, and anti-immigrant sentiment, this fantasy series is definitely one worth reading.
I've had a string of disappointments for second books in YA series recently, so I'm very pleased to say that Cazadora was just as good as I hoped it would be. I loved being back in this lush, imaginative world with great characters. I find this series to be so immersive, weaving a backdrop that feels almost real and makes me wish I could join this world of brujas, lobizones, romance, and magic.
I don't want to spoil anything, but this was a twisty adventure that introduced new, intriguing parts of the world in a story fraught with danger, yet grounded in friendship, found family, and love of all kinds. Also there's a romance that heats up, offering a sex-positive approach to a healthy relationship. This was fantastic and I can't wait for the third installment in the series! People are sleeping on these books. The audio narration is very good, though I was glad I had the ebook to read along, especially given the amount of Spanish used in the text. I received an advance audio and digital copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Did I think this was a duology? Yes. Am I disappointed? A bit. Because even though my feelings about this instalment were kind of lukewarm, the ending hooked me. I kind of expect to be in the same spot again with book three, where I end this review thinking the next book might inspire some love and probably being a little let down again.. but oh well, we're going to do it anyway.
Bruja. Lobizón. There's no accompanying symbol, but there's no need. The gendered language makes it clear which one is for girls and which one is for boys. There's no breaking out the binary, no room for anything in between.
Some of what I struggled with in book one wasn't here in book two, which was great, but overall I'm not 100% what actually happened in this book to differentiate it from book one. I mean, yes, we had the big capture, the big confrontation, but the majority of this book was just going through similar motions except the world expanded a bit more from the binary structure introduced in LOBIZONA. Until those misfits, much like their strict counterparts, weren't willing to unbend quite as much as expected. Part of me appreciated it, because going with the flow would've been a little too easy, but it did reinforce the whole 'what was the point of this' feeling. I imagine where we go next will be to lean back into a lot of the themes of book one -- isolation, illegal, unwanted -- with a few key differences.. such as the truth being out in the open. I can't picture how this ends, though; so that's something.
"They've been making up stories about independent girls in every tradition since forever. And I think it's time we take back our narrative."
As creative and visual as this world is (don't ask me why but my brain conjures Avatar-like colours and scenery), I do think it is a bit of a distraction from the dragged out plot. The themes, the dialogue, are all just as important and great as they were in book one, but.. I don't know. There's just a but for me.
Again, the ending was good, I will be back for more, but am I still sad I'm not loving this world? So much. Because of that, please disregard this review. I won't recommend you pick it up but I think this is important enough that you should anyway.
** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
I went into this book thinking that this series is a duology, and it is not. This may not seem like a big deal, but when you're expecting resolution and don't get it, it is a bit frustrating.
As far as the plot goes, I was interested in learning more about the Cazadores since they were a bit of a blur in book one. This story centers around Manu and her friends being on the run from the Cazadores and the sacrifices that they must make in order to stay hidden. That being said, I felt that so much of the story focused on the daily, mundane details that Manu and her friends experienced, which made the story feel slow and not really going anywhere.
The last 25% of the book is when we really kick into high gear, and of course, we end on another cliffhanger. So yeah, all of that was just rather frustrating.
One thing that I did really enjoy in this story was the conversation surrounding sex positivity when it comes to young people. I know this sounds like I overall didn't enjoy the story, but that's not true. I plan to continue with the series, but I definitely think this book fell into the second book syndrome category.
Thank you to Macmillan Audio for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
Not quite the follow-up that I feel Lobizona deserved.
Rather than being the concluding installment in a duology, as previously advertised, Cazadora is merely the second book in a series of ???. Which isn't a negative thing, exactly. But when you start reading a book with the expectation that the story will be completely wrapped up by the time you hit the epilogue, concluding things at a point where there's a bunch of loose threads is jarring (at the very least).
But in general, what didn't work for me was the way the magical system in this book has zero internal rules—any and all problems are easily solve via some bruja or another's application of magic or a convenient potion or magical plant. One of the big things you have to do with fantasy is to give your magic system limitations and rules, otherwise it ends up feeling hand-wavey and lazy on the author's part. Romina Garber didn't do that here, so each new iteration of "magic saves the day" kept getting less and less credible.
Also, the book is preachy. I understand that part of this is due to the intended teen audience. But another part of it is that Garber didn't trust her readers to arrive at the "correct" message without hand-holding and then beating the audience over the head with all the subtlety of a Kardashian spray-tan. Are misogyny, the gender binary, homophobia, ableism, and bigoted immigration laws a problem? Yes. 100%. But fiction is fiction, and there's a way to explore those themes without sermonizing.
What I'm saying is, Cazadora is okay. It's a very fast-paced book with several exciting twists and turns. But for my part, the world-building needed more internal structure, and the soapboxing needed to be toned down just a smidge.
I really like the story itself: the plot trajectory, the characters, the cultural aspects, the themes... But the pacing is very odd and it feels like some of the story's connective tissue is missing. Slow to start but by midway it seemed like our characters never stopped to take a breath. Multiple times I was scratching my head trying to figure out how the characters had gotten from point A to point B, or reached a certain conclusion. I feel like I still don't really have a handle on the world and the Septimus culture/history. All the pieces are imaginative and interesting, but the end result is messy.
Some pieces especially I liked: ▫ The Coven's internal politics felt like a good representation of social justice groups-- some have nowhere else to go, some consider resistance their life while for others it's more of a hobby, some believe in changing the system from within while others want to topple it, some are allies, some are only interested in their own personal cause and don't support the larger movement, and even those who want the same thing disagree about the best way to get it. I appreciated the nuance, and I wish the main characters had found the Coven earlier and spent more time there. ▫ Manu's strength of character and decision-making. Some of my favorite moments where her bold choices to be honest about herself and not settle for a lesser form of freedom in the name of safety. ▫ The overall themes about what it means to label a person's very existence "illegal" and breaking down restrictive binaries.
While I, like others, am disappointed that this didn't end up being a true duology, if this does end up being the final book... I'm actually kind of okay with the ending? It feels very symbolic of the never-ending fight for justice. However, I would still pick up a third installment because Cazadora's ending was quite unexpected and I'm curious to see where the story goes next.
P.S. - I spent this entire book wondering why the title is what it is, and at the end I was like Ohh. But it seems now like this might have been a better title for the possible third book.
TW: fugitive status / undocumented, mentions of past deportation and ICE encounter, body horror (werewolf shifting), magical violence, misogyny, cisheteropatriarchal society, homophobia/lesbophobia, mention of colorism, panic attack, mention of teen pregnancy as the result of rape, mention of stillbirth and post-partum depression, death of a friend, brief moment where rape seems implicitly threatened but does not occur
I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Okay, I'm so freaking excited that I got Cazadora. I'm also really happy that it picks up right where the previous book ended. Plus, we are leaving the human world to explore a new one. If you think things are going to be easier for our friends.. well, you'd think wrong.
Manu is on the run from the Cazadores. Mostly because they want to capture her and lock her up. So, yeah, I feel her pain and not wanting to do that. While trying to dodge everyone, her friends are trying to convince them that she's not harmful like the myth says she would be. Again, nothing was super easy for anyone involved.
Now while I absolutely devoured the first book.. this one took me a bit longer to get through. I just like the pace was a smidge off for me in certain parts and I also wanted a bit more action or something else. The world itself was still amazing but the people living within it weren't so much. Definitely made me suspicious of some and I just wanted Manu to live her freaking life - safely.
In the end, I'm so happy that I got the chance to dive into this. It was a lot of fun to find this series and I'm sad that this book is over. The issues that they brought up throughout these two book made me think and open my eyes at the same time. I also really liked how Manu was trying to figure out where she belonged. She grew throughout these two books and I'm secretly hoping there's going to be a third book.
Pretty please give me another book. I can't walk away from this world yet. I'm not ready. I need more.
Probably an unpopular opinion, but I was not a fan of this book. The first one was very up and down for me, but overall I ended up enjoying it and interested in the story. However, the follow up fell flat and even though the ending picked up, by that time, I just didn't care.
I will start off by saying, the premise to this book is fantastic. I love that we're getting more "own voices" stories from areas not showcased much. Argentine folklore is not an area where I had much knowledge and I really enjoyed learning more about that culture and beliefs. However, that's where my enjoyment ended.
I think my main issue with this book is the world it takes place in. To me, it's all over the place. I get that in fantasy you can pretty much do whatever you want because you're creating worlds that don't exist, but they need to be plausible. And I need to be able to visualize it. Despite the mass descriptions of these places, I still had a hard time visualizing where the characters were at. And it didn't help that rules and magic kept changing. I still don't fully understand the magic here, it just felt like the magic kept changing based on what the character needed at that moment. Like the magic was just an easy way to solve problems and that really took away from the story for me. While magic is cool and all, it can't always save the day and there needs to be some structure to it.
I'm not sure if this is just a duology or not, I looked at other reviews and everyone seems confused as well. So if this is the end, all right, there is some closure and readers can kind of take their own ending based on the info. If there are more, I'm not sure if I will continue honestly.
Thank you NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for my honest review. Cazadora starts off not long after Lobizona ends, which I liked. I prefer books that start right after the events of previous books. I don’t like when books jump a bunch of time and things supposedly happen in that time that the reader is just told about. I also really liked how the author refreshed the readers memory about events from the previous book. I was going to try to read Lobizona again, but I ended up deciding to just jump into Cazadora and see what happened. Garber reminded me of things from the previous book without dumping a bunch of information into the story. We still follow Manu and friends, but they’re on the run and trying to figure out a plan for what comes next. It felt like there was a bit of aimlessness for the characters where they sort of just ran because they didn’t know what else to do. But when they find the Coven things picked up and I really liked that. Once the friends have a goal and a plan, the story was excellent again. I think once a plan was made the pace really picked up and stayed steady for the rest of the book. I still liked all of the characters like I did from the first book. Manu, while still uncertain of who she really is, was brave and admirable. She’s had so many titles, but is still trying to figure out who the real Manu is. I liked this part of the story. I also liked that her friends had their own parts of the plot too. Some of them are struggling with their magic and others are working through relationship issues. I liked that they all had their own part to play in the story instead of just being there to support Manu. Overall, I enjoyed this book. I want more from this world and these characters. I’m sad to see that this is only a duology. But I’m hoping that this series does well enough that Garber will write more books set in this same world.
Cazadora starts off right where Lobizona ends with Manu and her friends on the run. We basically get a day-to-day account of their time in hiding. This wasn't a bad thing per se as we get more depth into many new characters on how the Lunaris society has hindered so many of their citizens of being free to be themselves, love who they please, and live their lives without fear of being persecuted.
Manu and her friends find solace in the Coven (resistance fighters) and she basically becomes the face of their revolution/resistance.
And to save herself and people she loves, she turns herself in to the authorities.
Now this is where all the happenings begins which is basically the end of the book. There is so much left unanswered with the fate of Manu, her friends and family.
For example, how is Manu's life now after her trail? Does her friends free her or find a way to reverse her sentence? Does Manu ever reveal her true powers? Will she ever be reunited with her parents? What happened to Saysa? What happens now with Manu and Tiago's relationship? Does her father reveal who he really is to the public? Does Cata and Tiago's plan actually work?
My overall rating is soley based on the ending of the book. I absolutely loved the plot of the story and where it was going. But based on the marketing of the book I was expecting for this to be a duology with a wrapped up ending. However, based on the ending in Cazadora there are so many unanswered questions and I feel like there is so much more of this world to be explored with the characters.
I would love to read more on Manu and her friends. So it is my I hope the author releases a 3rd book in the series so we all find out what happens next in the Wolves of No World series!
I didn’t think this sequel could be better, but Jesus Christ this book was perfect. My heart. Romina writes so beautifully and makes you feel. Manu, brave, brave Manu. Her spirit and strength are captured so beautifully I was moved to tears.
Cazadora starts right back up from where Lobizona left off without missing a beat. We are introduced to new characters that remind us that we cannot be caged by the identities, classifications, and/or societal expectations placed on us. The way Romina weaves in these topics through this magical story so flawlessly is truly a work of art.
You need this book & I need a third book in this series.
The Short Version: A modern day Argentinian folktale that doubles as a discourse on immigration and otherness inside and outside our own communities that just failed to grab me and keep me captivated
The Long Version: I got to listen to the audiobook ARC of this title thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio
This is a Fantasy title I hadn’t seen anywhere as a much anticipated title so I was surprised a story with such an intriguing description in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy realm had slipped past my notice.
Unfortunately this title just isn’t one I can shout from the rooftops as it was a bit of a chore to get through for me. The strange part about it is putting my finger on the problem(s) is a little difficult. The characters aren’t poorly constructed, though I didn’t really get invested into them. The plot marches along at a steady clip and there’s some twisting and turning, with mysterious supernatural powers being unraveled throughout. It’s just one of those books where despite a lot of elements that seem to stand solidly on their own, the story as a whole just doesn’t meld into a compelling narrative.
The first issue is that I didn’t realize until after reading that this was a sequel, so I’m sure a lot of that investment building occurred in the first book. I wasn’t willing to go back and explore the first book to try and re-evaluate so my opinions should be taken with a grain of salt. Also I do think a big part of the issue for me was the level of Spanglish in this story. There are portions where characters will speak in Spanish then the dialogue is repeated in English, there were also lots of places, concepts, etc… that were identified with Spanish names. I think if I read this as opposed to listening to the audiobook, it would have been far less jarring and much easier to get onboard with the story and really enjoy it.
So while I could appreciate the narrative and what the author was going for, everything just felt fine, not spectacular. The characters were reasonably well constructed, and their abilities were interesting, and the magic system had some decent thought put into it, I just never got invested in their struggle. The pacing was solid, the action unfolds at a consistent clip, and there weren’t lulls in action in the story, but I didn’t care about the events all that much either. I liked the ending,
Overall a 3 for me. It’s not poorly written and I see all the elements there for a story I should have loved, but for whatever reason, I just never got invested in this one. Probably very enjoyable for a large group of other readers, especially people who speak Spanish. Also probably a better title to read than listen to as the random Spanish phrases interspersed really threw me off.
Component Ratings Concept/Idea: 3.5 out of 5 Protagonist: 2 out of 5 Antagonists: 1 out of 5 Supporting Characters: 3 out of 5 Character development: 3.5 out of 5 Plot: 3 out of 5 Pacing: 4 out of 5 Prose: 4.5 out of 5 Dialogue: 4 out of 5 Narrator’s performance: 4 out of 5 Ending: 3 out of 5
With how much I loved Lobizona, I had been hesitant to read Cazadora and put it off for quite a long time because of that. Unfortunately, my fears were warranted as it was definitely a miss for me.
Now, I will say that I really loved all of the conversations surrounding gender expectations and what being true to yourself means. Those moments were definitely the highlight.
Unfortunately, everything else fell flat. I wasn’t as engaged in the story and despite the world getting bigger in this book, I wasn’t drawn in by the building of it at all. I also couldn’t bring myself to truly care about any of the characters or their journeys. Even the end, where there could have been so much tension and anticipation weaved into the story, didn’t hit the mark.
I was under the impression that this was a duology, but the ending has me thinking otherwise. Will I continue the series if a third book is released? Definitely. But I’m not on the edge of my seat waiting for it.
In the stunning sequel to Lobizona, Romina Garber continues Manu’s journey to break the archaic notion that one has to prove they have a right to exist. With brutal explorations on what it means to be “illegal” and coming of age in a world where you feel you don’t belong, Cazadora is a shining example of how important diverse stories are in the YA world.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: panic attack, self-harm
Cazadora is an action packed sequel to Lobizona. It develops everything I love about the first - the breaking down of rigid gender norms and illegal existence - in an emotional sequel. Can Manu find a place where she fits in? Finally a place where she doesn't have to hide who she is? Cazadora is a fierce story about rebellion, friendship, and sacrifice. About the cost of change and the necessary sacrifices we make. How we don't have to use the words that the world chooses for us.
3.5 stars. I didn't love this book as much as the first one, but still overall enjoyed the read. This rating could potentially go up with a book 3. I had thought this was a planned duology and while yes there is an ending of sorts, there are some doors left open for more.
No plot summaries so as to not spoil the first book. Basically, this book picks up right where the first book left off, and most of it takes place in Lunaris.
The themes in this book of identity, memory, history vs. present, tradition vs. accepting the world isn't what it used to be, family, belonging, and the acceptance of self... all exceptional. The integration of Spanish? Exceptional. The world building and magical realism? Exceptional.
The plot however did not feel as smooth in this book, and there were moments that felt like they were dragging a bit.
Still, I'm over the moon (get it?) that I got to spend more time with Manu and her friends and I do hope there's another installment - I would most definitely be fighting to the front of the line to read it. Also, I will ship Cata and Saysa forever.
Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the ARC, and thank you Romina Garber for giving me a female werewolf story and a LatinX heroine that will live in my brain for the rest of my life.
I enjoyed Lobizona, it wasn't a favourite but it was good and I was looking forward to Cazadora. It took me a while to get into this one, i'm not sure I ever fully did. It just wasn't pulling me in enough. It may just be me and I might have to give it another read sometime, maybe a reread of both books one after the other will help.
The book has a great message but it's really heavy handed. It felt like it was bring drilled into you rather than part of the experience of reading (if that makes sense?).
I liked the characters and the world, the magical world was more fully introduced and developed.. There's some twists and some excitement but it's missing something that I can't quite put my finger on. It didn't feel like there was enough substance to the plot.
I thought this was a duology, and I found a Q&A with the author from August that says it is, so i'm confused with the ending. So I assume it's now a series with an undetermined length which i'm not sure how I feel about that. I'll give this one a generous 3 stars
Ok I was on board for book one like cool fine but this book just had too many convenient inventions like clothes that magically temperature adjust and a magic internet/phone system. At a certain point it just seems like lazy writing.
“We are the narratives we tell ourselves. But do we shape language, or does language shape us? Do we define words, or do words define us? If everyone keeps insisting I’m this monster, how soon before I become her?” (381)
In this sequel to Lobizona, everything reaches a fever pitch of intense proportions!
Manu and get friends are on the run, fleeing across the magical realms of Kerana, trying to escape from not just the law but from the excruciating reach of tradition. Werewolves are men and witches are women. And, neither can be human. Manu, who is half-human and the first female werewolf, breaks all the rules. Her very existence is a threat to this world.
Even in a magical world, it seems Manu is still illegal. There’s nowhere she is free to be herself.
Will Manu be able to find some place where she belongs? More, will everyone else who feels excluded from even guys magical world be able to find a place to truly call home?
What is home if not the place we feel most loved and most able to be who we are?
This is such a gripping tale from start to finish that truly asks complicated questions about family and community and the tenuous bonds that hold us all together. Is it a betrayal to turn your back on family and community when both have shunned you at every turn, have made it clear that YOU are not free to be who you are?
Can anyone be free unless everyone is free?
I think this book demonstrates very well that justice and equality are spectrums that impact all of separately and profoundly. Further, this book demonstrates that, just because equality and justice are sometimes hard, does not mean they are not all the more worth fighting for. We can only dream a better future together.
Very inspiring and definitely worth reading! Looking forward to more!
En esta segunda parte Romina Garber extiende su mundo de licántropos y brujas a algo más. "Lobizona" fue un libro introductorio, en donde conocimos a los personajes y la forma de funcionar de este universo y donde se planteo los principales problemas de este, con algunos plotwist, pero Cazadora, no mete directamente a la acción y a la persecución, este libro claramente me gustó más que el primero.
El personaje de Manuela crece muy bien, al igual que los amigos que la acompañan, y es algo que me gustó como se desarrollo, tengo gran debilidad por el grupito de amigos que se forman en las novelas donde se apoyan al 100 y que cada uno con diferente habilidad aporta algo para la resolución del problema, algo que tenemos en esta segunda parte.
Algo que crece más en el uso de las creencias argentinas que se ven reflejadas en esta historia, me gustó bastante conocer acerca de estas y verlas adaptadas en esa historia.
Pensé por un momento que esta serie de libros sería una bilogía, pero a lo que leí la historia da para mucho más y espero pronto estar leyendo una tercera parte.
Cazadora picks up right where we left off in Lobizona. In this second book we completely leave the human world behind to explore all the wonders of the Septimus' world. Manu and her friends are on the run from the Cazadores that seek to lock her up and punish her for the crime of existing as a hybrid. Manu, Tiago, Cata, & Saysa must convince their people that Manu is nothing like the myth of la ladrona, the evil half human folktale that has scared the Suptimus for centuries. Romina Garber has created a world rich and full of wonder that also makes us question the morality of what it means for a person, or lobizona, to be illegal. While I know this is planned as a duology she has left the door open for a continuation, and I am hoping for a third book!
Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for providing me with an advanced copy for review.
4.5 just like the first! First and foremost, I am so upset that there’s no third book confirmed…. This so clearly needs one ?!?! Am I alone in thinking this ending does not suffice at all ?!? (Part of why this is not a 5 star lol I got so annoyed)
Also Zaybet’s death…. Oof. What a character to kill.
Oh and I hate Jazmin🥰🥰why couldn’t she just be an ally😭😭😭😭😭
Also did not like all the recaps in the beginning of the book to remind us of what happened in the first book (other part of why this is not 5 stars)
Buttttt, overall, love this world & enjoyed the symbolism, if it just had less of the romance focus I could teach it to my students to talk about gender and sexual identity rights 😩 Damn Tiago and his sexual innuendos
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Really enjoyed the broadening of this world! The conversations that are included are so necessary, especially in light of recent legislation. “I don’t know that there’s any plan for our lives… I think we just get confronted with choices, and the more honest we are when making them, the more our life begins to reflect us.” Love the strong women representation! “All I know is they’ve been making up stories about independent girls in every tradition since forever,… And I think it’s time we take back our narratives.” I felt there was a bit too much included and really wish it had been stretched into a trilogy. I hope there are more books in the future! Worth reading! 4.5 stars
Ugh, I hate writing reviews like this. I loved loved loved Lobizona so much, but Cazadora to me was just ok. I switched between reading audio and ebook and neither way was able to keep and grip my attention. It felt like a whole lot of filler, and I had thought that this was supposed to be a duology, but apparently it will be a trilogy. So sadly, in my opinion, Cazadora is yet another book I was anticipating that falls victim to "second book syndrome." That's not to say, however, that there weren't things I liked. I really liked seeing the dichotomy of Manu's identity both in the first book and and in this one. In the world of Lunaris, her hybrid status as a Lobizona makes her as abhorred and feared as does her identity as an undocumented immigrant does in the United States. Watching Manu process these things in the midst of hate and racism in both of the worlds she inhabits and watching her become more confident in who she is was really good character development. This book is definitely more character driven than the first, which as I've said is good and bad. I loved seeing Manu's positive relationships with her family, her friends and Tiago and how they form a community around her. I will say that, while the pacing in this one leaves a lot to be desired, the last quarter or so of the book does pick up and the ending leaves us on an intriguing note. I still am very interested in where the third book will take Manu and remain a fan of Garber's writing and consider her a super important voice in the YA fantasy genre.
I was granted eARC/audio ARC access to Cazadora by the Wednesday Books/Macmillan team via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to whoever does the approvals for the YA titles! This is a highly anticipated one for me. My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.
While the first book in this series opened in the real world a spent a lot of time introducing readers to the plight of an undocumented immigrant in the USA and the experience of a Latin American girl being raised far from home, which both blended into and foreshadowed the equally misfit status Manu would face in the magical world, Cazadora focuses entirely on the magical and only occasionally highlights parallels to issues in the real world. I really enjoyed all the additional exploration we got to do in this world, getting to know how it works, getting to know more about the other characters, and learning more about the magic system. The world(s) of this series feel much more tangible to me now, and I love that.
The plot follows Manu and her allies as she tries to run from the law long enough to form a plan to make the stubbornly stuck in their old ways elders of this world accept not only her, a hybrid and an unprecedented female wolf but also her friends who are ready to challenge tradition and embrace non-traditional relationships and orientations. This group of young people has a lot to fight for, and a lot to lose, and this book doesn't cut them any slack. If you're only reading to be entertained, then it's a high-stakes action-adventure fantasy about a group of teens trying to change their world (a mainstay of YA in this century.) If you're here to learn and grow and acknowledge all of the real-world plights this book points spotlights at, it's a beautifully crafted metaphorical essay on racism, sexism, and homophobia in our modern world.
This is definitely shaping up to be the sort of series that must be read in order. There's absolutely no recap (which is not a complaint from me, those are often so poorly handled and they're annoying for readers who aren't jumping in midstream) and that means a lot of world-building and character introductions don't happen here. This one assumes you've read Lobizona, likely recently, and throws you right back into the action where you left off, ready to send you off on a chosen one type middle book goose chase. It remains to be seen whether or not this will prove to be a sagging middle book or not, only reading later books in the series will reveal that for sure, but I can see the potential for this book to be something readers would struggle to connect with and get pulled into if they aren't reading in order or take too long of a break between books. You really need to already have a connection with Manu and friends to care and feel invested enough to hang on through all the twists and turns. This book won't take time to convince you to love her if you don't already.
Without being specific enough to reveal a spoiler, there is a character death mid-book that just doesn't hit me the way I think the author intended. I think I was meant to feel more connected to that character than I did. I think the events that character's death set in motion are supposed to feel more significant than they did. In execution, it felt pointless. When a witch in this world dies, one last spell is cast. The spell cast in this case is basically an "undo" on the consequences of the event that kills her. It just feels like the most unnecessary deus ex machina moment I've ever come across.
Sol Madariaga's narration was a pleasure to listen to, for the most part, and I think the minor thing I didn't like is a language barrier issue with the original text. Sol speaks every Spanish line with a beautiful authentic-sounding accent (as far as this non-Spanish speaker can tell at least!) I love listening to the cadence of this language and hearing these beautiful names pronounced correctly, but when characters read or speak lengthy passages entirely in Spanish, it's a bit overwhelming. This book opens entirely in Spanish and then (I assume) provides the English translation. It was long enough that I started to wonder if either I'd accidentally accepted a Spanish language audio ARC or if the narrator's accent was so strong that I was going to need to slow it way down to parse it. I hadn't, and it wasn't, but it was overwhelming. If I were reading it with my eyes rather than my ears I would have seen the English text following it and just skipped to it. I recognize that language is integral to culture, this is based on Argentine folklore, and that even the domestic audience for the publisher in the USA should be used to seeing/hearing the Spanish language even if they aren't fluent themselves. As a Canadian, this isn't a language I'm exposed to frequently, so that's my genuine reaction to hearing it.
Overall I really enjoyed returning to this world and I can tell there's a lot of story left to tell in the series. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoyed the first, and I eagerly await the next installment.