Thanks to the author for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: November 24th, 2017
Synopsis: Naz races to put the pieces of his life together while D’s life hangs is the balance.
Naz has lost everyone that he loves. And while he may have found refuge and pause at International Academy, he has found no piece and certainly no answers. All that he knows calls to him from the streets of the Exclave and Union High School where he reunites with friends and mentors.
Naz struggles, unsuccessfully, to put the pieces of his shattered life back together again—-until D comes into his world and changes everything. She helps him put everything into perspective, sees things he couldn’t see before and helps him remember things he had all but forgotten.
But when D goes missing, it will take more than Naz’s newly found abilities to discover her whereabouts, rescue her, and bring her unlikely captor to justice. Will he reach her in time?
I was first introduced to young Naz, back in 2015, when John reached out to me on Goodreads and asked if I’d like to read and review his debut, IA: Initiate. I immediately fell in love with this young teen who had lost so much yet never stopped pushing forward. In IA B.O.S.S. Naz suffers from another devastating loss, and I was anxious as to how he was going to cope with this latest blow. IA: Union perfectly wraps up this trilogy with an action-packed story that also explores love, loss, and closure.
Naz is such an empathetic and relatable character. Because of the horrible things that have happened in his young life, he has been forced to grow up much too quickly. Yes he has special abilities that help him finally bring the villains to justice, but more importantly he has tremendous strength of character and moral integrity. That’s not to say he doesn’t stumble along the way. Struggling with self-doubt, he wants revenge for what’s been done to him and his family. Helping him though, are his friends, girlfriend and mentors who play an integral role in shaping Naz into the remarkable young man he becomes.
While the story is set in the not too distant future, it also very similar to life in today’s inner cities. Society is not kind to under-privileged youth, especially ones like Naz, who have lost both parents. It’s a dark and gritty world where it’s difficult at times to know who to trust, including adults who seek to either control Naz and his abilities or destroy him. Yet there is hope here as well for new beginnings, especially at the end.
While IA: Union does an outstanding job at wrapping up Naz’s story, I’m going to have a difficult time saying goodbye. He is someone I feel like I personally know and I’ve watched him grow up. John Darryl Winston teaches when he’s not creating incredible stories, and it’s obvious he knows his audience. From the first book to the last, Naz is someone teens will like, admire, and relate to. I enthusiastically recommend this book and the entire trilogy for teens ages 13 and up. As hard as it is for me to picture John writing another book not featuring Naz, I’m eagerly looking forward to his next venture.