Beneath The Citadel by Destiny Soria
Beneath The Citadel plays with identity and memory to tell a riveting story of intrigue, revolution, and desperation. It's unapologetically queer in a way that feels like finally breathing, blending sweetness and exasperation to make an amazing ride.
I'm so happy this book exists, and I hope to read many more like it. The characters have complex relationships with each other that are informed by their queerness but not wholly defined by it. I only mentioned it so much because it feels amazing to read a story which doesn't treat straightness as a default. Another thing I haven't seen before is a teen friendship between former lovers where there's no jealousy about one of them moving on to exploring new relationships. I'm always looking at how YA books handle relationship triangles, and I like how this kind of dodges that entire premise while also keeping some of what makes that dynamic fascinating as a trope. As for the flow of the book, there's a really good mix of figuring out the tumult and constant stress of the main action, while also having quiet intimate moments where everyone gets a moment to breath and reassess.
I love the book, I love the premise, I love heist stories... I wish this were a series, but I also feel like it would be a betrayal of the conclusion of the book to try and have a related story in this space. It would be interesting to read more things in this world, but due to its nature as a portrayal of the last gasp of a dying and defunct societal paradigm, it's probably for the best that it's standalone.
CW for panic attacks, violence, child abuse, suicide, child death, major character death, death.