Parents' Guide to

The Sunbearer Trials

By JK Sooja, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Trans teen half-god hero leads action-packed Latino fantasy.

Book Aiden Thomas Fantasy 2022
The Sunbearer Trials Book: Cover Image

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What you will—and won't—find in this book.

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The adventure is light and fast in this Latino-powered fantasy, but it lacks the kind of depth that made the stories it's inspired by so successful. In its overt borrowing from previously successful fantasy frameworks, The Sunbearer Trials isn't trying to reinvent the wheel. It simply aims to be a Latino, progressive, and trans-led Hunger Games, no ifs, ands, or buts. Perhaps because of this, some of the proceedings feel as if they aren't exceptional or novel because they just create in the world of Reino del Sol a counterpart to the Hunger Games world. The main character, Teo, is a good example of this. While they have a few scenes in which they speak about their difficulties with binding, transitioning, and gender and body dysphoria, not much else is made of Teo being trans. Which isn't a bad thing, but for some, it might feel like a box checked, while for others, it could feel revelatory to have a trans hero lead this fantasy adventure.

Also, while the action is fun and thrilling from trial to trial, the world-building is lacking. Perhaps, in service to maintaining a fast pace, the adventure ignores the development of many aspects, from the actual world to Teo's companions and other side characters, to relationships and backstories. But the danger in doing so is that sometimes characters, relationships, and the plot can start to feel rushed, as if author Aiden Thomas is too eager to get to the next big action set piece or sequence. Some also might question why the "Obsidians" group (the other groups are the "Jades" and "Golds") are the "evil" ones who are "selfish, violent, and chaotic," while the "Golds" and "Jades" (which could be read as Europeans and Asians) are the opposite. But for others, this will be a fun fantasy romp through a Latino-style magical world.

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