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Amy A. Bartol has done it again! The USA Today bestselling author has added a new series to her bookshelf. Bartol is known for her Premonition series and the Kricket series. The Secondborn series is the highly anticipated addition to her long list of adventure-filled, dystopian utopia-based novels that have kept readers on the edge of their seats.

Roselle St. Sismode. The name is everywhere you turn and on the tip of any person’s tongue when they see her. Perhaps if she wasn’t the second child in her family she would enjoy this fact. Instead Roselle is haunted by who she is. No that’s not right. She doesn’t mind being a secondborn --- fated to be abandoned by her family and serve the government for the rest of what will be a presumably short life. It's the fact that she is the daughter of the The Sword. When her transition is complete Roselle finds herself in the place she always knew she’d be yet nothing is as she expected. Although prepared for the worst, Roselle finds that there are a handful of Secondborns that don’t mind her background. Her main ally? Maybe Hawthorne Trugrave. Her goal? To stay alive and keep her friends out of the trouble that always seems to follow her.

"I loved the heroine. She is probably in my top ten of favorite female protagonists. Fans of Marie Lu’s novels...will find characters that may rival June and Day. "

I’ll admit that I was somewhat put off by the book’s beginning. I felt that it was too slow and was easily distracted by other things (a sign that I was a bit bored). However, after trudging through the first few pages, the book began to emerge from the fog. There were suddenly too many intriguing things that were much too difficult to ignore. Bartol definitely wanted to explain as many concepts as possible in order to place the book into context but needed to do so in such a way that there was a lingering enigmatic aura. This worked against her at some points but ultimately served its purpose.

Although the book was enjoyable it felt as if some parts were forcefully incorporated instead of smoothly transitioned in. Imagine reading about random confessions of love when the characters should have been in battle or fleeing for their lives. There are occasions where the placement was definitely not in the right setting but perhaps this is what makes the book unique. Anyway, given the story it makes sense that Bartol had to shove in some romance at one point.

Usually YA novels are limited to euphemisms and sugary ways to conceal “the act.” SECONDBORN does the same but is slightly more liberal about what it includes. With that being said, I would like to issue a fair warning about certain parts of the book. There is rarely a teenager that does not understand the birds and the bees but there are many that would prefer to avoid the subject. Thankfully --- for my comfort zone --- the book was not explicit. In my opinion, those scenes was far from detailed but a person who has never read similar stories such as THE DUFF may be flustered.

In short, I loved the heroine. She is probably in my top ten of favorite female protagonists. Fans of Marie Lu’s novels (LEGEND, PRODIGY, etc.) will find characters that may rival June and Day. Likewise, fans of DIVERGENT and THE HUNGER GAMES will find themselves enthralled by Bartol’s nearest series.

Reviewed by Flor H., Teen Board Member on August 8, 2018

by Amy A. Bartol