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Lobizona by Romina Garber #BookReview

Some people ARE illegal.

Lobizonas do NOT exist.

Both of these statements are false.

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.

Lobizona cover

Title: Lobizona | Series: Wolves of No World #1 | Author: Romina Garber | Publisher: Wednesday Books | Pub. Date: 2020-Aug-4 | Language: English, Spanish | ISBN13: 9781250239129 | Source: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley for review consideration | Unstarred Review

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Lobizona Review

I gave up on Lobizona three separate times before I finally managed to finish it, but if you think this is going to be the start of a negative review, you’d be wrong. Mostly. Lobizona, in comparison to that other book which I shall not name, is well-written (and not everyone it is describe as Hot! Hot! Hot!) and the author does a great job of giving us a new fantasy world to lose ourselves in. Once I actually slogged through enough of the story to get to fully into that new magic world, I appreciated the originality of it.

I think that most of my struggles to get involved in this book revolved around three things:

  • This pandemic destroyed my ability to read
  • I am not the right age group for this book. Now, I read middle grade fantasy and such on a regular basis and can get into it quite easily, so I don’t often consider age to be a factor. But teenagers in all their overly-dramatic, hormone-fueled *makes wide “everything” gesture* are something else entirely.
  • I am a CIS white woman who can only come close to understanding what it is like to be an illegal if I take the worst of my Aspergery-offness, get very drunk, and look at it sideways and upside down through my legs. In other words, I can’t. So trying to connect with a character where that is so much of her life was really, really difficult at first. Especially when the character is also a teenager.

So, that established, let’s talk about Lobizona as objectively as I can.

The Positives…

Romina Garber’s writing is solid. It lacked the suck-me-in magic, but I never once considered it to be badly written, even struggling with the first half like I did. Once she finally did hook me, I zoomed through the last half of the story in a single afternoon.

The main character, Manu, is a lonely teenager fighting for her very right to exist on top of other considerations such as finding a place she belongs (and things I won’t go into for spoilers). She’s awkward and unsure of herself and she messes up and it’s easy to care for her

The world-building that Garber gives us is a mix of familiar objects and traits that somehow manages to seem completely fresh. So much beauty and uniqueness to set the battles that Manu has against. I really enjoyed it once they’d hit the location of the big game (again with the vagueness because I don’t want to spoil anything) and felt like that was where her writing really shone.

There is just the right touch of sexuality and sex in Lobizona. There are same sex relationships right along side the hetero ones. While Manu does have your typical five-gallon bucket of hormones, it’s not in every single page of the book. But when the hormones do hit, be prepared to fan yourself! (But there’s nothing so spicy you’d feel awkward reading it in public.)

The Negatives…

I have to say I just did not buy the big reveal. Not even a little bit. It felt a little like a cop-out, and that was disappointing. If you’ve read it, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts about it.

I’ve read other books featuring illegal immigrants, and those ones did a better job of driving home how different that life is from the life of a white American citizen. This did not do that. Maybe because everything was so dramatic that there was just no real chance to highlight the subtle differences, and sometimes the subtlest can be the strongest, I think. However, those other books were for adults, this is not an adult novel. That may factor into it.

Overall, Lobizona was a good read in the end. Hard to get into, and not as rewarding as I had hoped, but I’d be willing to try the next book in the series. I want to see what she can do if she’s given a chance to expand on the world she started to build for us here.


You can purchase this link through several bookshops just by checking out its Goodreads page; however, in the interest of promoting sellers that support literacy programs, we recommend seeing if you can purchase it through www.betterworldbooks.com .

Published inFantasy Book ReviewsUnstarred Reviews
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