The Unwanted by Jeffrey Ricker
Published by Bold Strokes Books, Inc.
Jamie, a junior in high school, is regularly bullied and sometimes beaten because he’s gay. If only he can survive high school and get out of town, he knows life will get better. Luckily, his best friend Sarah – she always has his back – and his dad help him survive. One afternoon Jamie returns home from school (beaten and bloodied thanks to Billy Stratton – “his high school nemesis”) to find a Pegasus in the backyard and a stranger in the house. His response? Scream like a girl (don’t judge!). Xena (aka Maia) upends Jamie’s world view with the announcement that she’s his (supposedly dead) mom and with his father’s announcement that she’s also an Amazon. Maia has shown up now because someone is out to destroy the Amazons and Jamie is the key to their survival.
Jeffrey Ricker writes a fast paced fantasy novel based in Athens, a St. Louis suburb, and the world of ancient Greek gods & goddesses. Initially, readers might be reminded of Percy Jackson, but they will be thrilled when they encounter a story where the characters have more depth, more emotion, and are more real. We feel Jamie’s first flickers of desire and the power of a first kiss to the final tears of loss. Mr. Ricker’s prose transports readers into the world of bullies and redemption, love and loss, and prophecies and the chosen one. Alongside the blood of both worlds, readers are also treated to Jamie’s snarky comments which left me laughing out loud.
Teens will love the action and adventure as well as the fact that this isn’t simply another coming out story, but rather an excellent fantasy story with a gay protagonist. Thank you Mr. Ricker!