Intense and thrilling, with amazing representation.


The Automae, long ago created to serve humans as pets have won a war against their human masters. Now, it is the humans who are slaves and the Automae who are Rabu's ruling race. Ayla is a human with a tragic past. Her family was killed in the war and she wants revenge against the Automae for their deaths. Specifically, she plans to murder Lady Crier, the daughter of King Hesod who was made to be without flaws and to take over her father's kingdom. However, Ayla's plans are foiled when she is unexpectedly promoted from palace gardener to the princess’ handmaiden. The Automae rule the kingdom, but there are differing views on how it should be done. As a result, Ayla and Crier must navigate political conspiracies in this hostile and deceitful society and, at the same time, address their growing feelings for one another.

BTSYA / Teen Reader (16):
I really enjoyed Crier’s maturation as she uncovered the truth behind the Automae and the humans who created them. I wish she was able to use this knowledge more, but she was unfortunately prohibited from doing so by the manipulations of other Automae royalty. The high-stakes politics made for a tense read, but the incorporation of romance helped abate that sense of looming danger.

My favorite part of the book is how beautifully the history and the world of Zulla were written. I loved the timeline Varela introduced at the beginning. It was so interesting to read about those events through the lenses of the characters themselves. This book is also amazing for the lesbian representation alone, something difficult to find in fantasy or science fiction.

I recommend this novel to high-school students or young adults. This story is a great option for lovers of history and fantasy looking for a sci-fi twist. Some of the romantic and violent themes would be inappropriate for readers younger than high-school age, but I believe older readers will appreciate the world-building and romance Varela has created with Crier’s War.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Plenty of twists and incredible worldbuilding will have readers turning page after page ... and not stop until they are done!

Content Awareness Factors:

Violence and sexual content.

Type of Book:
This is the first book in YA thriller duology that is part science fiction and part fantasy.
Educational Themes:

The story is fantasy, but there are elements that could make for realistic discussions: is it possible for artificial intelligence to "outdo" humans? Despite being "made," what similarities - and differences -are there between the Automae and slaves?

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
14 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
13 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer's Age: 16
Purchase Recommendation:
Consider it a buy for SciFi fans who love intense political intrigue and/or queer representation.

Title Crier's War

Crier's War, Book 1 of 2

Author Nina Varela
Publisher Quill Tree Books, Imprint HarperCollins Children's Books © 2019
ISBN 9780062823960
Material Hard Cover
Cost $17.99
Genres Fantasy, Science Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romance
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