Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace
Big Mouth House, 2015; 268 pp
Reviewed by Elise Matthews
I'm a sucker for dystopian/post-apocalyptic YA, even when it's derivative. Sure, there are plenty of overused tropes. Some of them appear in Archivist Wasp. But I had so much fun reading this delightfully weird book.
Wasp is an Archivist, a teenage girl chosen by the goddess Catchkeep to hunt and study ghosts in hopes of finding out what went wrong with the world hundreds of year prior. Every year, Wasp has to defend her title against a new crop of potential Archivists—in a fight to the death because only the strongest is qualified to carry on Catchkeep's holy work. The ghosts are mostly mindless and unhelpful until Wasp meets the ghost of a supersoldier who needs her help hunting down the ghost of his partner. Wasp's descent into the underworld, leaving her world behind, sends her on a journey of self discovery where she learns truths no archivist before her could discover.
This may not be the most popular opinion, but my favorite thing about the book is the lack of a love triangle. Of course, it's understandable we see so many love triangles in YA, as their protagonists are typically in the grips of some pretty intense hormones. But here, we have a protagonist who has more important things to deal with than cute boys. There are no crushes muddling up the story. Wasp takes care of business.
Sometimes the plot is predictable; mostly I didn't mind. The underworld Kornher-Stace builds is fresh and fascinating. Wasp is her own woman who isn't looking for anyone to save her.