3 out of 4 stars
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Bianca Ito – aka Bushido – was an inmate at a maximum-security prison called Death’s Home, where she served a sentence for killing her parent’s murderers. This foul-mouthed Japanese teenager has an athletic build, long blond hair, and “vibrant hot pink eyes.” Scars cover 60% of her short body, and her “teeth have been sharpened into fangs.” She is a founding member of a program called Illegals, in which prisoners become mercenaries and carry out violent and shady missions for the United Nations. In Many Worlds Presents: Illegals, a science-fiction fantasy novel written by Samuel F. Hunter, we follow Bianca and other ex-mercenaries.
The story begins with Bianca being reintegrated into society on an island off the coast of Cuba, a place named Tri-Nation City. The protagonist knew it wouldn’t be easy to lead a normal life, but unexpected challenges appear. Bianca has to face many hurdles, including sexuality issues, alcohol abuse, an assignment to escort a princess, and a war. She also must discover secrets from her past before she can finally make peace with it all.
I enjoyed the way the narration jumps back and forth in time, perspective, and scenarios, as Bianca reminisces about her former missions. The author is a talented storyteller, and the book offers glimpses inside the mind of a traumatized teenager adapting to the real world. An aspect I also liked about the story was the way it dealt with morally ambiguous situations, making readers ask themselves who are the real heroes and villains in the story.
But above all, in my opinion, the real value of the novel lies in the issue of how Bianca deals with her conflicts. I also found the supernatural parts interesting, with enticing mysteries such as the Alchemic Humans and their powers. I also enjoyed the multiplicity and diversity of characters that have different nationalities, ages, and backgrounds. I thought the author developed these diverse characters creatively and carefully. I especially liked the Japanese sisters Miku and Yui, and also Yin, the Chinese teenager. As Bianca, they are also haunted by their traumatic past and are being reintegrated into society.
Lastly, this coming-of-age adventure was a fast and enjoyable read that I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys young adult fiction with touches of science fiction and fantasy. Readers who prefer more mature themes might not like it as much. Unfortunately, due to the editing errors in the book, I am taking a star away from its rating. Therefore, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars.
Many Worlds Presents: Illegals
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