Amari and the Great Game is the sequel to Amari and the Night Brothers, an incredible middle-grade debut by B.B. Alston, who dominated the New York Times bestseller list for thirty weeks. The novel follows Amari in the wake of her finding her brother Quinton and saving the supernatural world from Dylan Van Helsing, a magician who was intent on starting an all-out war. Amari is certain that her first summer as a Junior Agent will be a breeze compared to what she endured last summer. But between the new Head Minister’s strict anti-magician agenda, agent rivalries, and her brother’s curse steadily worsening, Amari’s summer is off to a rough start. So, when the League of Magicians offers her the chance to become their new leader, she declines. But her refusal allows someone else to step forward, a magician with dangerous plans for the world. This sparks the beginning of the Great Game, a gruesome set of trials to decide who will become the next magician’s leader.
Amari and the Night Brothers is possibly one of the most creative and immersive children’s books of all time. Amari and the Great Game is equally as incredible. Alston’s way with words suck you into his expertly created supernatural world. His magic system is full to the brim with unique creatures and magical powers that are utterly captivating. Alston’s imagination is not one to be rivalled. The book is packed with action and fast-paced with incredible characters, making it impossible to put down. Amari is an amazing heroine whose ability to subdue her anger and instead solve her problems with logic is admirable. As is how she places her friends and family above all else. Countless times throughout the book, Amari places herself in danger to save those that she loves. With such engrossing characters, the stakes remain high for the entirety of the novel, as you cannot help but become invested in their welfare and safety.
The story behind Amari and what her character stands for is incredibly important and special. Alston created the character of Amari because growing up, he had yearned to see a character that looked like him in a fantasy series. Amari, an inner-city kid from a poor neighbourhood with brown skin and curly hair, completely opposes the stereotypical middle-class white character that you tend to see in the fantasy genre. It was wonderful to imagine how Amari’s character will help other children in feeling seen and recognised.
Alston also utilises Amari’s character to bring up themes of discrimination. Throughout the novel, Amari is discriminated against for being a magician. Magicians are beings in the supernatural world with unusually high levels of magic. They are despised at large because they are feared. Magicians are branded with the label ‘UnWanteds’. By discussing discrimination in this manner, Alston makes the theme accessible and easy to understand for young audiences.
Overall, it is easy to see why Alston’s fantasy series has been picked up by Universal Pictures to become a major motion picture.