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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Legacy* by Cayla Kluver- young adult book review  
by Cayla Kluver
Grades 7+ 496 pages Harlequin Teen June 2011 Paperback    

Action, adventure, romance, and duty are the main keywords describing Cayla Kluver’s excellent debut novel, Legacy. Seventeen-year-old Princess Alera of Hytanica is pursued by suitors as she approaches the age of eighteen, when she will become the Queen. Should she choose to wed the man her father thinks has the best qualities to be the new king, Lord Skeldor, or will she decide to marry out of love? After a bitter war that occurrs between Hytanica and Cokyri, in which the first-born boys of the Hytanicans are captured and killed by the Cokyrians, will she fall for the one boy who returned alive from his captivity, the sixteen-year-old who goes by his Cokyrian name, Narnian, in defiance of his Hytanican father, Baron Koranis? Will she choose to carry out the duties expected of her, or to live her life as she desires?

If you’re looking for a richly painted tapestry of words, a fantasy sort of book written as if Jane Austen were still alive and had decided to write fantasies involving princesses, then you’re sure to love reading Legacy. Like Austen’s books, Legacy is a novel of manners, social interactions, gossip, and headstrong, intelligent women deciding for themselves who would be their best marriage partner rather than relying on convention or the wishes of others. The plot will likely please anyone who enjoys the fantasy genre, and the writing style is one which revels in its description and which you’d expect from a highly experienced author with several novels to her credit - yet the author of Legacy is merely fifteen years old. One can only ask, to what further heights can she go?

The prologue introduces us to the war that rages between Hytanica and Cokyri, which is central to the entire plot. To say the Cokyrians don’t fight fair is an understatement; they are ruthless in battle, and when they start to steal away the first-born boys of Hytanica, it’s devastating to that kingdom and the morale of its people. Within a week, the kidnappings come to a stop, and “the decomposing bodies of the infants were found outside the gates of the city, a final word from the greatest enemy Hytanica had ever known.” The Cokyrians mysteriously withdraw from the land, leaving the Hytanicans grieving and wondering when they might next have to face their formidable enemies in battle.

One of the most striking elements of the book is that you’d think the Hytanicans would embrace the daughters of their country dearly after the war, and any other sons they might eventually have as well. But in Hytanica, as in the vast majority of countries in this world, women are second-class citizens. Even if you’re a princess like Alera, your thoughts and opinions are only important when they happen to be in agreement with the king, Elite Guards, or any other male authority figures in your life. But Alera refuses to play by well-defined rules and plans, and wants to be the one who has the most say in her life. She is a heroine young adult readers can find easy to admire.

Legacy is the first book of a series of two the author has planned thus far. If this novel is any indication, the second book, Allegiance, is a cinch to also be wonderful for readers of all ages. Legacy is a long book, which in the past I might have believed could be a detriment to people wanting to read it; but, like the Harry Potter novels, the length makes the world and people in it seem more complex, interesting, and richly portrayed. Bottom line: if you’re searching for a fantasy book that features a multidimensional, realistic heroine faced with difficult choices, Legacy is a novel that definitely won’t be a difficult choice for you to make to add to your reading list.

Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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