Fate, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

YA author Jennifer Lynn Barnes has quite the talent for creating unlikely heroes. Her The Squad series features cheerleader secret agents, while 2007’s Tattoo and its recently released sequel Fate center around four teenage friends who fight evil using magical powers gained magical temporary tattoos. In both cases it’s probably best not to think about her books too hard, but they’re a lot of fun while they last.

Tattoo introduced readers to 15-year-old Bailey Morgan and her best friends: Zo, Delia, and Annabelle. When the four girls pick up a set of temporary tattoos at the mall, they find the body art comes with some unexpected side-effects—Zo can suddenly see the future, Annabelle can control people’s thoughts, Delia can transmogrify objects, and Bailey can set things on fire. The girls are thrilled with their new powers (particularly Delia, who promptly starts transforming gum wrappers into designer shoes), but they soon discover the magic comes with both a price (defeating an evil Greek demigod) and a time limit (three days). The girls eventually triumph, and the book ends with Bailey, whose power alone remained, assuming the duties of one of the three Greek Fates.

The second book in the series, Fate, picks up two years later. Bailey has gotten a lot of practice balancing out her supernatural life with her human one. She spends her nights weaving human lives into the magical tapestry of the universe; her days are devoted to finishing high school. Unfortunately, change is coming in both of her worlds: her friends are splitting up to attend different colleges, and her supernatural relatives are arranging her “Reckoning”, a magical coming-of-age ceremony that will require Bailey to make some choices she really doesn’t feel prepared to make....

In a nice change from many YA books, romance isn’t the central focus of this series. Both stories feature a love interest for Bailey, but the primary relationship in these books is the one between the four female friends, whose rock-solid devotion to each other never falters. There are plenty of books out there about teen girls with supernatural powers (and even more books about girls with magical love interests), but a heroine whose biggest source of angst is the idea of her friends heading off to different colleges is a much rarer beast.

Better yet, this isn’t the kind of series that actually needs a wholesome “Stories about female friendships are good for girls’ self-esteem!” sales pitch*. In addition to the genuinely sweet friendship storyline, Tattoo and Fate offer snarky quips, supernatural butt-kicking, and exchanges like this one, where Bailey and her otherworldly suitor have a little post-apology throwdown:

'“Bailey, I know you’re angry, but—“

“What tipped you off?” I asked. “Was it heat rolling off of my body, or the fact that I hate you?”

“You don’t hate me,” he said softly. “You want to. There’s a difference.”

What I heard was: Please, light my pants on fire.

“Okay,” I said, and James breathed a sigh of relief... until his pants burst into flames.'
See? Smart, girl-friendly, and totally fun enough to stand on its own!

*Unlike, say, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
Posted by: Julia, Last edit by: Julianka


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