Archivist Wasp - Nicole Kornher-Stace

Archivist Wasp had been on my want-list for a while but I recently managed to pick it up (along with a few other interesting things) as part of the Humble Bundle scheme. Anyway, after bouncing off another book, I decided to give Archivist Wasp a try and was immediately hooked!


The main character is the eponymous Wasp whose job it is to hunt and trap ghosts for study - she's a teenage girl in a world where the goddess Catchkeep marks girls for this particular task before birth, one who's gained the role of Archivist by killing the previous one and then defending her position to the death against her rivals every year. 


When we first meet Wasp she's in the midst of fighting her third opponent for that year and she's also in the midst of something of a crisis of conscience. The set-up in which she lives is brutal and isolating, with the priest literally taking Wasp has been given by the local inhabitants to live on and bullying her relentlessly. She has already made attempts to run away from this life, although there doesn't seem to be all that much to run to, and currently contents herself with small acts of rebellion while planning to run again - one of those acts of rebellion has been that of setting ghosts free rather than trapping and studying them.


On hearing that the girl she wounded but wouldn't kill had been left to die slowly of her injuries, Wasp is impelled to run once more and meets a ghost who is able to communicate with her, which in itself is a novelty for her, and who asks for her help to track someone down. With no real options, Wasp agrees and is plunged into the world of the ghosts, discovering there the truth about her own origins and the system in which she's been living. She also discovers what it's like to have someone to back you up, an experience Wasp has never had previously, prompting Wasp to go back and tell the others who had previously been her rivals the truth about everything. 


Archivist Wasp is a mixture of dystopian fantasy (with despatching ghosts and all) and science fiction (since we discover along the way that the ghost Wasp is helping is that of a genetically-modified super-soldier, one of two who'd survived a brutal regime designed to turn children into weapons) - I was relieved to discover there's no romance sub-plot, which is often a significant feature of YA books, so that helped me with giving it 5 stars. If anything, Wasp discovers a love for a life she'd never previously experienced, one where people support and help each other, and that was decidedly right for this book.