Way back in the day, we had this thing called Must See TV. And one of the shows you had to “must-see” was Cheers. Set in a bar in Boston, the show operated around the premise that “sometimes you want to go where everyone knows your name.”


It’s a universal theme. Whether you’re transferring to a new school, moving to a new neighborhood, or meeting the guy piloting an identical spaceship as yours that you have no idea how you ended up on (you can read more about that here), everyone wants to fit in. But sometimes, “making your way in the world takes everything you’ve got”—especially if you were kidnapped as a child for your magical abilities.


In the fantasy novel Incendiary by Zoriada Córdova, Renata Convida is kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the kingdom of Adulacia. She is an only child and a part of the Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria. Now, as a member and spy of the rebel Whisperers, Renata is having trouble fitting in because of her power:

I’d still be a scavenger if Dez hadn’t petitioned his father and the other elders to train me as a spy. My skill has been useful at saving Moria trapped in the Puerto Leones borders, but no one among our kind wants a memory thief in their midst. Robari are the reason we lost the way, even if our side has been on the losing end for decades. Robari can’t be trusted. I can’t be trusted” (17).


Making your way in the world really does take everything you’ve got—especially if, before you were kidnapped, the other side (determined to destroy your people) used you and your power to turn hundreds of the “enemy” into hollows (what they called people who were stripped of their memories until they withered into empty shells).


Of course there is more to Renata and her past than just extracting memories, but when Dez (her commander and the one whose love is the only thing keeping her going) is captured, Renata must return to her former home to convince those who once held her captive that she has remained loyal to them. So while everyone knows her name, no one trusts her.


As a memory thief, Renata will wish she could forget the truths that come back to her when she returns as a spy to her former captives. Incendiary may rely on standard tropes—highly sought child with powers seeking redemption after using that power for ill—but it reminds us that as much as we may want to have our painful memories taken away, life is a series of joys and tragedies that may just inspire and empower us to save the world.


And that’s a definite must-see. 


Have students write about their most vivid memories and download a free graphic organizer below!



Michael Méndez Guevara is a former high school journalism and English teacher who spent his time in the classroom helping students see themselves as writers and fall in love with reading through the world of young adult literature. As an educational sales consultant with Perfection Learning®, Michael works with teachers and schools on improving their literacy instruction and providing resources to help students achieve academic success. He has taught elementary school, middle school, and high school and has worked as a district level leader and served on the Texas state standards revision committee that developed the state’s current literacy standards. He is the father of three adult sons, the youngest a student at the University of Kansas—Rock Chalk! Michael is working on a professional development book for literacy educators and currently has agents reading the manuscript of his young adult novel, The Closest Thing to a Normal Life. When he's not reading, writing, or running, Michael is fully committed to watching as much Law & Order as possible.