The Adjustment by Suzanne Young
The Program, the government’s attempt to end the suicide epidemic among teenagers by forcibly wiping the memories of depressed or suicidal teens, has been exposed and ended. Teens who went through it are being reintegrated into society. One of these returners is Tatum’s boyfriend, Weston. He doesn’t remember her at all, but Tatum is sure that their connection can be rekindled. When she hears about the Adjustment, a system that uses donor memories to help bring back erased memories in Returners, she’s skeptical but optimistic. Of course, because this is a Program novel, nothing about the Adjustment is what it seems.
Suzanne Young knows how to write teens that act and speak like teens. At this point, her series has grown a bit stale for me (this is the fifth book in the series, which consists of three sets of duologies), but readers who love her style of writing and love the conceit behind this series (which has always felt a bit thin to me) will enjoy this installment. Familiar characters from the other duologies make important appearances, which is always fun for series regulars. I appreciated the direction Young ultimately took Tatum and West’s relationship, and a twist ending will spur readers to grab the next volume in their story as soon as possible.
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
I love a good fairy tale retelling, and this is a really good one. It’s a take on Snow White that divides its time equally between Lynet, the Snow White character, and Mina, the stepmother character. Lynet is the girl made of snow – she was crafted by a magician from snow and the magician’s blood in the dead queen’s image at the behest of the king. Mina is the girl made of glass – she was ill as a child and her father, the same magician who created Lynet years later, crafted her a glass heart to save her life. When Mina marries Lynet’s father, the two (woman and girl) become close. But the machinations of the men in their lives – the king and the magician – eventually pit them against each other.
This is an explicitly feminist reimagining of the classic story, with the men in power doing their best – both actively and passively – to prevent girls and women from realizing and acting upon their own power, even from forming deep and lasting friendships with other women. Both Mina and Lynet are told from an early age that if anyone ever loves them, it will be for their beauty. They internalize this message, and their actions are based alternately on accepting it and lashing out against it. Bashardoust’s writing is really beautiful, and she adds layers to each of her characters slowly and deliberately. Mina is no villain, and readers will desperately wish for a happy ending for both leads, even when it looks like one’s happiness can only be secured with the demise of the other.