I’m with Cupid by Anna Staniszewski. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2015.
Marcus and Lena are middle school-aged matchmaker and soul collector, with both the strengths and the weaknesses to fit these skills. Lena likes life to be neatly organized, enjoys being able to help people’s souls cross peacefully over, but has been struggling with depression since her mother left. Marcus is a romantic at heart who struggles with meeting his father’s expectations of masculinity, especially when compared to his athletic sister. Also, his beloved grandfather is dying and Marcus is uncomfortable with hospitals in general and facing this loss in particular. When Marcus and Lena kiss during a party game, they end up swapping powers. What starts out as broad comedy ends up a surprisingly thoughtful blend of romance and character development. This is a great mix of light fantasy with a tender and believable middle school romance.
Shadows of Sherwood. Robyn Hoodlum Book 1 by Kekla Magoon. Bloomsbury, 2015.
This futuristic retelling of Robin Hood gives us a female, mixed-race Robyn, whose mission slowly evolves from survival and revenge for her parents’ disappearance to helping the numerous people kept poor and sick by the evil Ignomus Crown’s new policies. Our Robyn slowly pulls a band mostly of kids around her as she learns more about the resistance movement that was going on without her knowledge her whole life, in keeping with her having grown up as part of the elite. She’s surprised to learn that the six-stranded braid her father taught her to do her hair in has mystical significance, and works to learn more about the Moon Lore. I enjoyed the futuristic setting, and the tension between people telling Robyn that she’s meant to be a leader and needs to act like it, and those telling her not to think so much of herself because she’s young and coming late to the party. Though I’m focused on the character development as usual, those reading for plot will find plenty of action to keep them happy as well.