Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsRace to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsRace to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Nizhoni Begay wants to be a star, or at least popular. She’s hoping to make the game-winning score at her middle school basketball game but, instead, she’s humiliated when she gets distracted and gets hit in the face by the ball. The reason she was distracted was that she saw a man in the stands watching her. She could tell he was a monster. When that same man shows up at her house for dinner because he’s her dad’s new boss, Nizhoni tries to warn her father that he’s a monster but her father doesn’t believe her and seems very eager to please the monster.

When the new boss tells Nizhoni that she and her little brother Mac have powers he’s interested in, and then kidnaps their dad, it’s up to Nizhoni, Mac, and Nizhoni’s best friend Davery to rescue him.

This sets them on a quest in which they will need to find a map, solve riddles, pass tests, procure special weapons, and be clever and brave. Fortunately, they will have some help from unexpected sources, including a stuffed horned toad which Nizhoni purchased at a museum.

My teenage daughter and I listened to the audiobook of Race to the Sun (2020) together. It’s a finalist for the Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel. Nizhoni, Mac, and Davery are appealing heroes, and the story is well-paced, often humorous, and a lot of fun. We enjoyed learning about Navajo mythology, specifically the legend of the monster-slaying Hero Twins which we were unfamiliar with.

Rebecca Roanhorse addresses issues such as protecting the land, the importance of family and ancestors, and the value of hard work. The story is sweet and heartwarming, and a great book to read with the family. My daughter and I loved the audiobook addition published by Listing Library and impeccably performed by Kinsale Hueston.

Published in 2020. Lately, seventh grader Nizhoni Begay has been able to detect monsters, like that man in the fancy suit who was in the bleachers at her basketball game. Turns out he’s Mr. Charles, her dad’s new boss at the oil and gas company, and he’s alarmingly interested in Nizhoni and her brother, Mac, their Navajo heritage, and the legend of the Hero Twins. Nizhoni knows he’s a threat, but her father won’t believe her. When Dad disappears the next day, leaving behind a message that says “Run!”, the siblings and Nizhoni’s best friend, Davery, are thrust into a rescue mission that can only be accomplished with the help of Diné Holy People, all disguised as quirky characters. Their aid will come at a price: the kids must pass a series of trials in which it seems like nature itself is out to kill them. If Nizhoni, Mac, and Davery can reach the House of the Sun, they will be outfitted with what they need to defeat the ancient monsters Mr. Charles has unleashed. But it will take more than weapons for Nizhoni to become the hero she was destined to be . . . Timeless themes such as the importance of family and respect for the land resonate in this funny, fast-paced, and exciting quest adventure set in the American Southwest.