Saturday, February 3, 2018

Book Review: 'The Mark of Noba' by G.L. Tomas

Connecticut authors Guinevere and Libertad go by many superhero aliases. Whether you know them by G.L. Tomas, the Twinjas, or the Rebellious Valkyries, their mission is always the same: spreading awareness of diversity in books. From their authors’ note at the close of this book we learn the following:’ The Mark of Noba centers on a number of subjects we’re most passionate about— racial, LGBTQIAP, and in the near future, disability representation. We were even inspired by non-Christian religions when worldbuilding. It’s not to say we deliberately tried to incorporate all those things, but as the story evolved, it strengthened the book to the point where we couldn’t see it any other way. Diversity in books is important to us because all people deserve to be more than tools or stereotypes, or treated as less than they’re worth in order to move one type of character’s story forward. We all have the ability to be our own heroes, rather than to always be blindly guided. As women of color, we don’t see enough representation onscreen, in books, and sometimes, even in our own communities. Not to leave out you wonderful dudes, but girls, we have the opportunity to be more than just virginal, desirable, ladylike or likeable. We can all be more than sidekicks, and this is where we speak to everyone. We deserve to be complex. We deserve to be heroes. We even deserve to be well-crafted villains, too. We deserve to be everything…’

Two writers, then, whose style is visceral and raw and authentic, even when pushing reality into other worlds – not science fiction but time travel or whatever adjective you choose to attach. In this book they write about a young lad, high school age, son of a schizophrenic mother and working father whose adventures transition from daily routine of school and friends to an encounter of significance.

The synopsis the authors provide details it well: ‘A call of souls. Union of power. Transcendent of time. Sterling Wayfairer has one goal for his senior year: make his mark. But things don’t go as planned when he starts to encounter his mysterious classmate Tetra. Tetra not only has answers to the recent disappearances, but Sterling will soon find, that making his mark isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sterling discovers he shares a spiritual bond with Tetra, and that only their power has the ability to stop the malevolent evil they face. They must work together or risk the destruction of their world.’

Some examples of dialogue – Tetra: “Sterling Wayfairer, we have things of great importance to discuss.” “It means that you and I are connected. You bear the Mark of Noba.” “We’ve always been drawn to each other. What I am about to tell you may be difficult to understand, but you and I? We are not of this world, of Geo. We come from a place called Noba.” Sterling: I grinned. “What did you say your name was?”

At the end of the book the authors provide a very helpful glossary – one that likely would be best read before starting the book. It includes term sin the story – Geo - The world Tetra and Sterling landed in after their first attempt at Time Riding. Noba - The world that connects all worlds. Illuminata - The world Tetra and Sterling travel to after leaving Geo.

Strange book by interesting authors. Grady Harp, August 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.