February 18, 2022

Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations #1) by B.B. Alston

Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations #1) by B.B. Alston
Rating: 5 Stars
Release Date: January 19, 2021
Format: Paperback + Audiobook (library)
Publisher: Balzer + Bray 

Amari Peters is a young black girl living with her mom in lower-income housing; a scholarship student at a mostly white school. She’s never really felt like she’s “fit in”, and her issues are magnified by the disappearance of her golden child brother Quinton. Despite everyone saying otherwise, Amari knows her brother is not dead and is determined to find him. When she receives a mysterious package from him, she discovers a part of Quinton’s life that he had previously hidden: Quinton worked as an investigator for a secret society, and he’s nominated Amari to try out for her own spot. If Amari can survive the rigorous summer training, she’ll be that much closer to finding out what actually happened to her brother but things will be much more challenging and complicated than she might have hoped. 

Unlike many other middle-grade books, B.B. Alston does address issues like racism, class differences, and prejudice in this book. Amari deals with being looked down on in both her “normal” school and when she’s in training to become a junior agent in the Bureau of Supernatural Investigations. It doesn’t matter the reason - her brother’s success being a fluke, her home being in the ghetto instead of some rich people community, her simply being black - everyone seems determined to see Amari fail but that only gives her more of a drive to succeed and prove them wrong. I loved that, and I was rooting for Amari to kick all of their butts the whole time! The fact that these issues didn’t disappear once she was introduced to the world of magic was particularly poignant for me. I appreciated that there were multiple figures in Amari’s journey who were supportive, like Agent Fiona and Elsie. 

The worldbuilding was imaginative and beautiful. I was immersed in it while reading and didn’t want to leave. I was reminded of movies like Men in Black, The Hunger Games, and Percy Jackson and the Olympians. There’s a whole host of creatures Amari has to learn about in a very short time, the other trainees look down on her because of where she’s from (akin to tributes in The Hunger Games looking down on Katniss because she is from District 12), and Amari ends up being more unique and powerful than anyone could have ever anticipated. It was so much fun to learn about the different abilities possessed by the trainees. It was also interesting to learn about the different departments housed within the Bureau of Supernatural Investigations. 

I would recommend this book to middle-grade readers who would love a fantasy tale full of diversity, lovable characters, and magic. Despite being aimed at kids, I think it would be equally suitable for young adults and adults as well. Readers of all ages will be able to take something away from reading Amari and the Night Brothers. I’m eager to see what’s next when the sequel, Amari and the Great Game, comes out in August 2022.

About the Author

B. B. Alston lives in South Carolina. His debut middle-grade novel, Amari and the Night Brothers, has been published in 27 countries and is an international bestseller, including a Sunday Times bestseller. In the United States, the book has spent more than 30 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List. In 2021, the book was named the Overall Winner of the Barnes & Noble Children’s and YA Book Awards. A major motion picture is currently being developed by Universal, starring Marsai Martin. His second novel, Amari and the Great Game, will be released August 30, 2022.

When not writing, he can be found eating too many sweets and exploring country roads to see where they lead.

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