Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap, while almost effortlessly unique in its setting and characters, too often gets bogged down in the tropes of other genres—especially star-crossed romance and magical realism—to feel entirely convincing or satisfying by the last page. The rural Illinois town that protagonists Finn and Roza inhabit is summed up in consistent, symbolic motifs, which Ruby invokes whenever possible: bees, cornfields, gossip, and (most effectively) the “gaps” of the title. As successful as these images are, other aspects of the novel fall flat, ultimately distracting readers from the complexity of the setting. Classic scenes of teenage social cruelty, for instance, feel painfully out-of-sync with a rural setting that is otherwise frozen in the past, and incessant references to Craig Thompson’s graphic novel Blankets quickly grow stale—especially since Ruby seems oddly reluctant to refer to that novel by name. Perhaps most disappointing are the author’s halfhearted attempts at magical realism in certain scenes, which more frequently reek of coincidence than true enchantment. Roza and Finn’s shared story has plenty to commend it, especially to fans of less traditional YA fiction, but its restless shifting between disjunct genres rendered it difficult both to follow and to enjoy. – Andrew R. ’17
It’s been 18 months since Alyss’s death and Will is still obsessively searching for the man who was responsible. Far away, Cassandra and Horace desperately look for a way to straighten out their rebellious daughter, Maddie, who sneaks out of the castle to hunt. It is decided that Maddie will be mentored by Will and train to become a full-fledged Ranger’s Apprentice, and despite having trouble coping at first, falls in love with the life of a Ranger. I found the book interesting, with humor and suspense scattered throughout and was well written. John Flanagan ties this book to his first, in comparing Maddie to a young Will, nervous but eager to learn. With this book, I enjoyed catching up on the latest book the Ranger’s Apprentice series.