Here’s a book about orphans that will make people feel guilty for reading it.
In one of the most meta twists of all time, this story is narrated by the actual book, as in: “It is a pleasure to meet you. Truly. Life as a book is not as easy as one might think.” Readers will feel even worse than usual if they spill their drinks on the footnote-festooned pages or dog-ear the corners. But the story has plenty of other meta touches. All the orphans have read stories about orphans and expect to come to a tragic end. In fact, it’s required by law. They’re forced to sign Tragical Oaths, such as, “When faced with a fatal threat, I will not fight back or retreat under any circumstances.” Every character in the novel is, by definition, cartoonish. (The witches even have purple or slime-green hair.) Even book-loving orphan Birdie is a bit cartoonish. Under those circumstances, it’s difficult for a character to be outrageous or over-the-top, but the narrator achieves it simply by talking nonstop, even when it interrupts the story. Many readers will find this distracting, and they may skip pages to get back to the characters’ exploits. The cover art suggests that Birdie is white, and the book adheres to the white default.
This book may feel postmodern, but at its heart, there’s an old-fashioned, gripping adventure story. It’s a shame that it’s so difficult to find it. (Fantasy. 8-12)