Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2024) Featured Review: Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross

  • Divine Rivals
  • by Rebecca Ross
  • Publisher: Wednesday Books
  • Release date: April 4, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781250857439

After centuries of slumber, the gods have woken and they are angry, launching the country into a brutal war that forces mortals to choose sides. Iris and Roman are in a fierce competition to become the new newspaper columnist for the prestigious Oath Gazette, both with their own reasons for competing. Iris has struggled to pay the bills ever since her brother joined the war and her mother became consumed by grief and her alcohol addiction. Roman comes from a wealthy family, but wants to carve a life for himself out from under his father’s shadow. While Iris continues to fight for the better paying job and can’t stop worrying about her brother, she finds comfort in writing letters and slipping them into her wardrobe where they vanish – into the hands of Roman, her rival at the paper, who decides to anonymously write her back. 

Divine Rivals is a historical fantasy romance with a focus on the power of family and love in a time of war. The magical letter writing is romantic and fun. The two main characters, Iris and Roman, are delightful to read about as they face different obstacles from different backgrounds, and the supporting characters are just as powerful and interesting. While some readers may think the pacing starts off slow, the second half takes off at such a rapid pace it’s hard to put down and is utterly captivating as the setting of the story shifts to the war front.
This is a strong choice for teens who are a fan of rivals-to-romance fantasy titles and don’t mind a cliffhanger. Readers who enjoyed The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski or Lovely War by Julie Berry should give Divine Rivals a try.

-Allison Riggs

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.
The Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee appreciates teen feedback as members evaluate the nominated titles. Teen librarians are encouraged to share the List of Potential Nominees under consideration with their patrons and solicit feedback using the link: