A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Mentions of Guerra Sucia in Argentina in the 1930s, when the intolerant government killed and separated families. References to a lot of great literature, including One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. An explanation of Magical Realism in Latinx literature. Also includes a lot of dialogue in Spanish (some of it Argentinian slang).
Love and loyalty to family and friends. A call for justice and empowerment for women, the LGBTQ community, and especially for the undocumented. A reminder to look for the fantastical and miraculous in the real world.
Positive Role Models
Manu is brave and resourceful when she leaves her home and finds her place among witches and werewolves. She cares more about protecting her mother and her new friends than about keeping her dangerous secrets.
Violence & Scariness
A woman beaten unconscious by ICE agents, another separated from her crying infant. Fights with monsters where monsters get heads cut off, necks snapped, and are stabbed through the throat. A man is drained of his energy by magic. Main character, Manu, suffers menstrual cramps so severe that she must be knocked out for three days with special pills. An old woman is attacked, falls, and hits her head. Werewolves fight each other. Mentions that Manu's father is either dead or disappeared and that Guerra Sucia killed and separated families in Argentina in the 1930s and forced many to flee the country.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some passionate kissing and partial undressing, straight and LGBTQ.
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"F--k" and "s--t" are common in heated arguments and exclamations. Less common: "ass," "dick," "damn," "hell," and "bitch."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A special mate tea taken every day at the academy has hallucinogenic and magical effects. Flowers in an alternative realm seem to have similar magical properties and are consumed by all ages.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Lobizona is the first book in the Wolves of No World series by Argentinian American author Romina Garber. The main character, Manu, is living in Miami undocumented and hidden away by her mother because they fled from danger in Argentina in secret and because of Manu's striking, alien-looking eyes. When ICE agents come, they take Manu's mother, beat another woman unconscious, and separate a baby from its mother. When Manu discovers her link to an academy of witches and werewolves, there are some battles with monsters where monsters are beheaded and stabbed through the throat. You'll read plenty of Spanish in dialogue, most of it translated, some of it Argentinian slang, and lots of "f--k" and "s--t" as well. Both straight and LGBTQ characters passionately kiss, and mate tea and alien flowers have magical and hallucinogenic effects. Manu is brave and resourceful when she leaves her home and finds her place among the witches and werewolves. She cares more about protecting her mother and her new friends from harm than about keeping her dangerous secrets.
Is It Any Good?
While the story builds too hastily, it will still draw readers in thanks to Manu, its undocumented and part non-human main character. When we meet Manu she's already got some superpowers -- super smell, super hearing, super-thick hair -- and wild eyes that look like suns, which she needs to hide behind glasses. And every day she's scared of ICE finding her and her mother in Miami. She has to run away from everything to find who she is. The world she discovers is full of witches (brujas) and werewolves (lobizones), and her place in it fascinates.
The world would fascinate more if it had been more carefully drawn for the reader. It's really hard to visualize the academy Manu finds in the Everglades and the parallel realm beyond. The author also takes shortcuts with the building of Manu's new friendships. It's really hard to understand why two girls who barely know her are willing to risk themselves to cover up her secrets. The rules of this secret world are also sparsely laid out, making the stakes for Manu's discovery hard to grasp. Careful plotting and lots more description would go a long way toward making this good fantasy read a spectacular one.
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