August 11, 2016

GL Tomas: "The Mark of Noba" (Blog Tour Review and Giveaway)


Title: The Mark of Noba [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: The Sterling Wayfairer Series (1st of 4 books)
Author: GL Tomas [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Urban Fantasy (more precisely, Portal Fantasy)
Year: 2015
Age: 14+
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Unconventional approach to girl-meets-boy and chosen-one tropes. Reversed stereotypes. Funny moments. Diverse characters.
Cons: The worldbuilding is a little confusing. What I thought a pivotal theme in the book gets abandoned later (that's the most I can say without spoiling anything). This is a debut book, so the writing still needs strenghtening.
WARNING! A few references to male physiology and making out.
Will appeal to: Those who like modern fantasy with a solid comedy undertone and a role reversal.

Blurb: Sterling Wayfairer has one goal for his senior year: make his mark. But things don’t go as planned when he starts to encounter his mysterious classmate Tetra. Tetra not only has answers to the recent disappearances, but Sterling will soon find that making his mark isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sterling discovers he shares a spiritual bond with Tetra, and that only their power has the ability to stop the malevolent evil they face. They must work together or risk the destruction of their world. (Amazon)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I have been friends with the authors since I was still a newbie blogger. Therefore, I was reluctant to review their work, for fear of either being perceived as biased or hurting their feelings. But after reading the unedited version on Wattpad, I realised there wasn't any need for me to tiptoe around this book - I found a lot to like, so I thought I'd just review it as if I had stumbled upon it by chance. Also, turns out that GL Tomas are able to handle criticism like the best of them ;). Bottom line: being virtual friends with the authors didn't influence my rating in any way :).

I BEG TO DIFFER

The first thing you notice while diving into The Mark of Noba is that the male white lead (whose POV we get in the first few chapters) is not your average teen. And I don't mean it in the sense that he's MORE - on the contrary. Sterling is insecure, a bit clumsy, and doesn't excel in any sports (actually, he hardly plays any). Also, he has to tend to his schizophrenic mother more often that he would like to. Now, my description might make you think he's the classic nerd with no friends and a house full of books, but nope - not even that. Actually, he does have a couple of friends who are far more popular than he is, but hang out with him no matter what - and his favourite reading material seem to be Playboy magazines ;D. I found Sterling relatable precisely because the authors weren't trying hard with him - he sounded like a normal, flesh-and-blood teenage boy, which was refreshing. As it was refreshing how TMON managed to reverse the classic cute-new-boy-at-school-tells-girl-she's-a-chosen-one trope. Here we have a new (black) girl, Tetra, who comes from a world called Noba and is going to turn Sterling's world upside down with her revelations. Also, she kicks ass. Sterling will need a huge dose of extensive training in order to do that ;D. [...]

FUNNY GIRL

Sterling and Tetra's exchanges - well, all her exchanges with anyone, to tell the truth - are often hilarious. Think a girl from a culturally non-binary world and a boy with teen hormones rooming together - plus, having to reshape an old spiritual bond that Sterling doesn't even remember them having, since it dates back to when he was a toddler (yes, because Tetra hasn't aged since then. Which is kind of creepy of course, because she would be almost twice his age now, at least inwardly...but you get to forget that while reading. After all, age-wise, Twilight was much worse ;D). Sterling's world, Geo, has no racial issues anymore, but gender roles are still a lot more defined than those Tetra is accustomed to - think our world, only colour-blind. Or colour-accepting. Anyway, Tetra gets to question a few point about genders, or even the way girls regard one another. It's refreshing and funny to read. Sometimes she is as clueless as Supernatural's angel Castiel version 1.0 (season 4-6). Gotta love her ;D.

PARENT TROUBLE

The supporting characters gets different stages of development - I have to say Sterling's mother Lauren and his friend Kip are probably the most well crafted. I liked that Lauren was schizophrenic and Sterling had to take care of her, while his father was less involved - it gave a different perspective to the story at first. But then...let's just say Lauren's illness is pushed under the rug, and as the story ends, it falls out of the picture, so to speak (sorry I can't be more specific). Its resolution is clever, but the story both gains and loses something because of it. I know the authors are interested in all kinds of diversity, so I hope they're going to feature mental problems in their future releases, specifically how having a parent suffering from them impacts a teen's life. It's not seen often in YA lit, and I liked their approach to it.

PROMS AND CONS

While the big threat and the real action are crammed in less than 20 pages towards the end, it didn't feel rushed to me. The book follows Sterling and Tetra for the best part of a school year, so it's only natural that it should be so. Also, big showdown at the prom? Awesome :). I hate most YA tropes with a passion, but book proms are always fun. This one is, um, on the dark side (not going to spoil more), but still FUN, is you know what I mean. Satisfying. A bit heartbreaking, but effective. Though I wonder how the kids and their families will deal with the aftermath of the all-prom-breaks-loose situation, because that was...er...definitely unusual. Not to mention deadly. Sadly, this is not mentioned or explained.

INDEPENDENT WOMEN (PART 1)

This is an indie book, and GL Tomas' debut. It could have gone wrong on so many levels - or so the stigma about indie books goes. The truth is, I was able to spot a few typos here, but I recently found a whole bunch in a traditionally published ARC (and I think it was ready to go, since it was going to get released in a few weeks, so I guess the editing job was done. FYI, I was the one who pointed out the mystakes to them...). Of course, typos aside, I'm not saying the writing is flawless. Sometimes it's their quirks that give the characters away, more than a change of style when the POV switches. Also, the worldbuilding confused me a little, because for all the flashbacks, I still don't completely get how Sterling and Tetra originally bonded, and why. (There's this swimming pool scene that I'm not sure I got the reason for, too). But the novel kept my interest, and the humour in it was very welcomed. Not to mention, the reversed stereotypes made for a fresh story, though a few tropes are still there. I would recommend this one to those jaded fantasy fans out there, or just about anyone who wants to try something that defies canon in a few ways.

Bonus N° 1: the original cover for The Mark of Noba (I think it was changed because people got the impression that the book was MG and not YA).


Bonus N° 2: Tetra and Sterling kicking asses :) (but what's lurking behind them?).


For my interview with GL Tomas click here.
For more Supernatural books click here.
   (Note: since I didn't set up a Fantasy page because I don't usually read books in that genre, I decided to store this series in the Supernatural page - which loosely fits. Sorry for any inconvenience).

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Guinevere and Libertad go by many superhero aliases. Whether you know them by G.L. Tomas, the Twinjas, or the Rebellious Valkyries, their mission is always the same: spreading awareness of diversity in books. Oh, and trying to figure out the use for pocketless pants! 
They host other allies and champions of diversity in their secret lair in Connecticut.

Connect with GL Tomas: Author Website | Review Website | GoodreadsTwitter | Facebook


 
Thanks to YA Bound Book Tours for including me in this blog tour! List of my fellow participants here. Learn more about The Mark of Noba! And try your luck...GL Tomas are giving a few bookish goodies away!

2 comments:

  1. This is so unexpected and awesome =D For years we've told you it didn't matter if you reviewed it, and as a friend, you weren't obligated to, so we're surprised you actually gave it a chance.

    We announced some news for its re-release, which I'll send in the form of an email(This is Guinevere btw ;p)and it explains some things, but thank you so much for being a friend, not just for this review, but just making us feel welcome in the blogger community in general, when we were just starting out. It was lonely at first, but we wouldn't have been anywhere with TBR without blogger support =D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I knew this one was up my alley, and that's why I decided to give it a chance. I didn't want to be/sound biased, and that's why it took me so long to review it ;). Looking forward to that email!

      It has been my pleasure to chat with both of you all this time, and of course, I intend to go on doing so. Also, 4 years ago I was a newbie blogger myself, so we helped one another in a way, even if I don't write books, just posts! ;D

      Keep up the good work!

      Delete

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