The Sunbearer Trials by Aiden Thomas is a young-adult fantasy novel that mixes aspects of Mexican/Aztec Mythology with more modern elements. The book tells the story of Teo, a trans teenager, a Jade semidiós, and the son of the goddess of birds. While Teo has been told his whole life that he is less important, not as strong, and no hero in comparison to the “Gold” semidióses, this is put into question when he and another Jade are chosen to compete among 8 golds in the Sunbearer Trials- an important ceremony that happens only once every ten years in which 10 young semidióses compete with one another to appease the sun god Sol. He begins to question everything he’s ever known while trying to keep himself and his friends out of harm’s way in the trials. This book feels very reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Percy Jackson & the Olympians.
There is so much great representation in this book. First, there is the representation of different types of mythology. So often books and movies focus on Greek mythology but forget about Aztec mythology, Indigenous mythology, Germanic mythology, etc. This book does a great job of tying real aspects of Aztec mythology into this fast-paced story. The identity of the main character Teo as trans (as well as other characters being part of the LGBTQ+ community) is written about in a refreshing way. Teo’s identity is written about in a way that does not hyperfocus on the struggle of being trans, but simply acknowledges his identity and carries on. Along with the great representation and storyline, the underlying message behind this story is amazing. It is a classic underdog story, that shows is that physical strength is not the only strength, and it is often not the best. Things like intelligence, kindness, altruism, and determination can be just as valuable.
About me: I am a 23 year old bachelor of education student at the University of New Brunswick, originally from Sudbury, Ontario. I love to read YA, historical fiction, horror, some romance, and really anything I can get my hands on. I’m so excited to share my love of reading with my future students.