Next-in-Reading #51: Novillera

Next In Reading

Title: Novillera
Author: Wena Poon
Year: 2013

“All I’m saying is, you could die in a car crash. You could die in a bullring. You could die anytime. Might as well die trying to get where you want to be.” – Tomas, You Should Have Been a Man

When Wena told me that Alex y Robert (the first book) was going to have a sequel, I was excited. Alex y Robert is one of my favourites so I could not wait to see how the story development between Alejandra Herrera and Roberto de la Torre would work out.

Unlike most sequels, Novillera does not distinctly start after the events in Alex y Robert itself. In fact, what was interesting about this novel was that it focussed on a different aspect of Alejandra’s journey to becoming a bullfighter and the daily struggles and details on being in the ring.

This instalment not only gives us the intricate details on being a bullfighter – the costumes, the training, the reality of getting gored by a bull, media, assistants etc…, but also the relatable struggles Alex goes through. The sexism and blatant discrimination she faces as one of the few female bullfighters in the industry rings a bell in today’s world as well.

Juxtaposed against Alejandra’s fire and passion for the ring, Roberto, her unwilling mentor and peer, is shown as a bullfighter desperate to get out of his profession. This is despite the sudden jolts of inspiration and suggested affection he has from and for Alejandra herself. Like many of her books, the character dynamics between Alex and Roberto is nothing short of enjoyable to read.

Moving back and forth between Spain and the United States, the novel moves into a deeper, more thematic story of friendship, life, and culture.

And as we get closer to the protagonists, one can only hope that both Alejandra and Roberto manage to find the end of the minotaur’s labyrinth.

For more information on Wena and her work, click here.

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