David A. Willson’s Looking For Dei is a wonderful new YA novel. It is listed under YA Fantasy and Urban Fantasy… I’m not sure that it quite fits either of those molds. It also isn’t quite an apocalyptic dystopia, but there are minor elements of all those genres, making modern teen readers feel right at home with the themes.
The story follows a few different POVs but mainly focuses on Nara and Mykel; Nara has a mysterious heritage and Mykel, her friend can empathize with her because of a birth defect. Looking for Dei evoked the same kinds of feeling that I get when watching the televised Shanara Chronicles. For the most part it’s good, but it’s also sometimes soooo YA slanted. But like I said: good. The story also evokes some themes of Madeleine L’Engle that I enjoy (themes of good vs evil and some very positive tropes that border on allegory in many respects.)
Willson is his own writer and while there are tropes present (without overt spoilers, you’ll see what I mean when you encounter the light and dark dualism personified) he clearly isn’t ripping off anyone else’s story (I’m looking at you Paolini) and has crafted his own universe. I felt the universe took a little bit to unfold and would’ve liked to see the action unfold earlier than it did, but world-building can take time. I particularly enjoyed the little “flavoring” snippets such as quotes from the fictional holy texts like Cataclysmos—they really added a layer of depth that helps in more than just building a mythos, but drawing a reader into it.
This is, over all, an enjoyable read and a good fit for pretty much any audience that enjoys YA or fantasy reads. I got my copy as an ARC to review for my Inside the Inkwell Blog. You can get a copy at Amazon by clicking here… in fact, it just released over the weekend!