A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Last Gate of the Emperor is an example of Afrofuturism (a mix of folklore and high tech) based on the culture of Ethiopia. It offers the chance to discuss race and identity.
Family and friends hold the world together. Looks are deceiving, and a snappy joke can defuse a dangerous situation.
Positive Role Models
With help of his Uncle Moti and bionic lioness Besa, Yared Heywat ekes out a meager existence in Addis Prime as second-ranked player of an illegal underground AR game. A cocky wiseguy, Yared uses humor to defuse tense situations. His biggest rival is the Ibis, a female player, who offers unexpected support. (She may have a crush on Yared, and vice versa.) Cultures and folklore of Africa and Ethiopia lend inspiration to the story.
Violence & Scariness
Violent scenes include killer vehicles and robots. There is little bloodshed, mostly just property damage.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Last Gate of the Emperor is a science fiction adventure tale by Kwame Mbalia (Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky) and Prince Joel Makonnen. Wiseguy Yared Heywat is a champion in the augmented-reality game The Hunt for Kaleb's Obelisk, based on African folklore. It has lots of fighting with "killer" robots, but little actual bloodshed. Mild romantic crushes occur in the story.
Is It Any Good?
Afrofuturism has become a popular genre, and this high-flying African adventure demonstrates its appeal. In Last Gate of the Emperor, Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel Makonnen concoct a fast-paced tale reminiscent of Star Wars at its best, filled with folklore and high tech. Yared is a wisecracking and likable protagonist, especially when interacting with his pal Besa. There are plenty of plot twists and unexpected revelations. Readers who love sci-fi will find plenty to enjoy here, and they're likely to be on the lookout for further adventures in this universe.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.