Friday, March 22, 2019

An Emotional Rollercoaster: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

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An Emotional Rollercoaster: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe
Carlos Hernandez
Genre: Adventure, Middle Grade, Sci-Fi
Publication date: March 5th, 2019
by Rick Riordan Presents

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How did a raw chicken get inside Yasmany's locker?

When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn't under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal's office for the third time in three days, and it's still the first week of school. Gabi, student council president and editor of the school paper, is there to support her friend Yasmany, who just picked a fight with Sal. She is determined to prove that somehow, Sal planted a raw chicken in Yasmany's locker, even though nobody saw him do it and the bloody poultry has since mysteriously disappeared.

Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician, but for this sleight of hand, he relied on a talent no one would guess . . . except maybe Gabi, whose sharp eyes never miss a trick. When Gabi learns that he's capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken--including his dead mother--and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There's only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk.

A sassy entropy sweeper, a documentary about wedgies, a principal who wears a Venetian bauta mask, and heaping platefuls of Cuban food are just some of the delights that await in this mind-blowing novel gift-wrapped in love and laughter.
-A copy was provided by Rick Riordan Presents for review-

Rick Riordan Presents is probably the only imprint I can say I want to read EVERY SINGLE BOOK FROM. I saw the synopsis mentioned a raw chicken inside a locker and was immediately sold. I WANTED IT and I READ IT and YEAH. I am not really sure if Sal and Gabi Break the Universe has mythology vibes??? But what I can say is that it is truly a work of art.

There is a good chance I’ve said that about another book or two before but I don’t know how else to describe how truly well written this book is. Carlos Hernandez knows how to pace a book, he knows how to pull at your emotions and he knows just how to crack and build tension. There were so many times when I’d be teary eyed and a well placed joke would have me laughing my butt off. I don’t think I’ve read a book in a long time that actually made me laugh out loud but this book? THIS TRULY WONDERFUL BOOK DID.

Sal Vidòn is an aspiring magician. He loves the thrill of pulling off complex tricks and entertaining people. He and his family recently moved to Miami and it’s his first week at the Culeco Academy of the Arts. Unsurprisingly, it isn’t off to a great start. One thing leads to another and somehow…a raw chicken finds its way into the locker of Yasmany- the kid who has been bugging Sal.   

Gabi Reál is… a lot of things. She is head of student council, editor of the school paper and occasionally plays lawyer whenever her friend Yasmany gets in trouble. She knows that whatever Sal might say, that raw chicken wasn’t just a magic trick. Something fishy is going on and she is here to unearth the truth.

Of course, the truth is the furthest thing from what Gabi could have imagined and soon, Sal and Gabi find themselves investigating parallel universes and figuring out how they can minimize long-term consequences.

So, here is the thing, I personally found that Sal and Gabi Break the Universe wasn’t super plot-driven which is sort of what I went in expecting?? There are things happening but I noticed that the characters themselves were at the front and center of the story rather than adventures and such.

I AM A PLOT PERSON But I wasn’t even really disappointed that there wasn’t as much of a plot because the characters themselves are so so well-written and well rounded. Sal has diabetes and lost a parent 5 years ago. He is still grieving his mother and yet he also has a positive relationship with his stepmother and his father. Gabi’s brother is in the NICU and might not survive. She is terrified for her brother but she is surrounded by her mother, many fathers and friends who lend her support when she needs it. Yasmany is not really a main character but he deals with abuse and is still able to form meaningful relationships and also find support.

These characters are all so wonderful I absolutely cannot wait to see where their adventure will take them next. I DO HOPE that now that we have an incredibly strong grasp on these characters, we get more adventures into parallel universes and explore this near-futuristic world a bit more.

4 Stars
4 Hot Espressos

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Rashika has been tired since 2013. There are very few things that spark joy for her besides a nice cup of tea, warm, baked goods, good books and good TV shows. She is here to pile onto your giant TBRs and to-watch lists. Offer her a cookie and she might be nice to you.

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