Review: Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

Rubber Chickens for EVERYBODY!!

Review of

SAL & GABI Break the Universe

by Carlos Hernandez

5/5 Stars

First, a few words about the marvelous work the Rick Riordan Presents imprint is doing in bringing to the forefront of young adult literature amazing stories for different cultures, peoples, and perspectives.

While Riordan is known for his mythic tales of gods, demi-gods, and magic, Carlos Hernandez graces us with his own brand of magic filled with Cuban-American culture, cuisine and a delightful smattering of specific slang and flavor of Spanish experienced in the community of which he hails.

I meant it when I wrote ‘magic.’ Sal is an aspiring magician—and I ordered a rubber chicken in Sal and Carlos’ honor!

But what really makes the story soar are the characters and characterizations in the novel. These kids (and these days, anyone under thirty is a kid to this old man) feel extraordinarily real to me. How they speak, how they act, and how they interact felt perfect. They aren’t orphans or “Peanuts kids” (no parents around). Nor is anyone the pure “Christ figure” or the “Devil figure.”

The “bully” at the beginning of the story isn’t a bully at all. Gabi is NOT the brilliant “Hermione-Granger” type she starts off as. No one is all perfect or all flaws.

Just like…real people.

Of course, real people can’t yank things back and forth between Universes, but that sort of whimsical ability plays into the situational adventure Hernandez weaves here. Tension is created by events and we get to watch (me rather gleefully) as these delightful characters react in ways that are unexpected at first but make sense as you close the back cover.

It’s how Hernandez plays with the expected character buckets and tropes of the genre (helped by exquisite prose) that make this story so much fun.

If you aren’t cheering for Sal, Gabi, and Yasmany throughout the story, I don’t know what to say to you.

My only negative is the duration of the wait until we find out how Sal & Gabi Fix the Universe. Oh, book two…I need you now!

But I’ll be on the line at the book store day one of the sequel’s release to get me a copy. Of that, you can be sure.

Carlos at a reading, BOSKONE 2017 and his signature in his book “The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria”

 

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