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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Losing Nuka by Kayla Howarth is a fun ride from beginning to end. Nuka has always wondered where she came from, more than her abilities as a Defective. Who was she before she was adopted at six years old? When she goes to find her birth certificate, she discovers her birth name isn’t in the records and that her adoptive parents lied about her origins. She seeks out her birth mother, unsure what to expect. The last thing she expected was to learn that her mother and stepfather are rich investors of fighters in an illegal fight club called Litmus. At first her new life seems like the best way to give back to the Defectives living in poverty, a way to bond with her new found little sister, and figuring out if she has feelings for her best friend or her new alluring bodyguard. When tragedy strikes, the glamorous veil of the underground world shatters and she’s forced to confront reality.
I actually gasped toward the end of Losing Nuka. I knew events were going to boil over by the end, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the two tragedies that occurred. They were heartbreaking. Losing Nuka is more than a tragedy. The characters have one dominant feature. They want freedom. Nuka wants freedom to find herself. Brett wants freedom from Litmus and freedom for his family from poverty. The characters are more than fighters. They’re people with flaws and loyalty. It’s a dark world, but it’s realistic and relatable. Image has an important role in the novel. The fighters put on an act. Everyone hides who they are to survive in this world. The charm of the world hides the hideous underneath. Nothing in Losing Nuka can’t be compared to our real world. Losing Nuka is a wonderful blend of humor, tragedy, and love.