Title: TENTACLE & WING
Author: Sarah Porter
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
ARC: Yes and no. I was approved for an ARC but was also sent a finished copy.
Release date: 10/10/17
MG/YA/NA/Adult: Older MG.
TW/CW: Violence, death.
Twelve-year-old Ada is a Chimera, born with human and animal DNA thanks to a genetic experiment gone wrong. Because being a “kime” is believed to be contagious, she has kept her condition—complete with infrared vision—hidden. But a surprise test outs her, and Ada is shipped off to a quarantined school for kimes.
There Ada meets kids of many different shapes, stripes, and appendages, such as a girl with dragonfly wings and a seal-boy. As she adjusts to her new life, Ada senses that the facility is keeping a secret that could upend everything the world knows about Chimeras. But will someone put a stop to her efforts to uncover the truth?
Clearly, I was meant to have this book. After seeing it on HMH’s Fall Release list, I requested and was approved for it on NetGalley. Imagine my surprise when I also received a finished copy in the mail. HMH, you are too good for me.
I’d like to start this review off by saying that while this is a middle grade book, it is definitely an older middle grade book. I probably would not let my younger godkids read this just due to some violence and the death of a character… which was oddly graphic for a middle grade novel.
When I first read the synopsis for this book, I thought it was going to be more of a mystery novel, and while there is a mystery element, this book is mostly about correcting internalized hatred. Ada, our main character, is a chimera. Her dad, a scientist, has coached her to hide the things that make her different. Her mom, however, does not know what her daughter is and runs a political campaign aimed at getting rid of chimeras. So Ada has lived her whole life thinking chimeras are bad even though she is one, and when her secret is discovered, she become very self-sacrificial. Even though she is sad and hurt that her father basically gives her away instead of fighting for her, because of her internalized hatred, she kind of agrees that she needs to be locked away for the safety of others.
When Ada arrives at the quarantine for kimes, her world view starts unraveling. During the entirety of the book, Ada learns that they- and she- are not what the world believes them to be. Past the differences in their opinions, Ada realizes that they are just children and they have every right to be loved and taken care of. At the end of the novel, Ada has come into so much self-acceptance that she makes the decision not to forgive someone for hurting her. I think that’s a pretty great thing to put in a middle grade novel. Children should be taught that they don’t have to forgive their oppressors or people who use them.
This novel also explored the fact that not everyone is on your side. We learn the truth about Ada’s dad in this book but there are also several kimes who are also pushing their own agenda.
I really loved this book! It was fast-paced and didn’t lag (definitely will keep anyone’s attention!). The characters are lovable and Ada is a wonderful heroine. If you’re into middle grade books with a little mystery and a lot of heart, pick this one up!