The Change Series by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith

Stranger, The Change I , co-authored with Rachel Manija Brown.

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This series is being re-issued with new maps and covers in the lead-up to the October 10 release of its long-anticipated final volume, Traitor.

Here is a map of Las Anclas during Stranger. (Those who know the map of Los Angeles can imagine this town at the northwestern end of Westchester.)

In the post-apocalyptic world of the Change, people with mutant talents are powerful and hated, and even the trees can kill you. Teenage loner Ross, wounded and hunted, walks out of the desert and into a town full of secrets. He brings with him a mysterious ancient book, the rage of a vengeful king, and a deadly power he can’t control.

In the walled town of Las Anclas, he confronts prejudice and danger. But he also meets the shy and brilliant teenage mechanic Mia, and the confident and passionate warrior Jennie. The last time Ross got close to anyone, disaster followed. With his enemies closing in on him, he faces a perilous choice…

”A fresh story with well-developed characters, fast-paced action, and a fantastical world”-School Library Journal (starred review)

”Infused with a generous spirit – call it a utopian dystopia… Characterization is rich and stereotype-free… Equally exceptional is the depiction of conflict… The five dynamic narrators and action-packed plot deliver thrills while slyly undermining genre clichés. A first-rate page-turner that leaves its own compelling afterimage.”-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Set against a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles that feels like a futuristic Wild West, this novel follows a diverse cast of characters in terms of both race and sexual orientation who must navigate a landscape full of telekinetic squirrels, man-eating trees, and a bounty hunter after an ancient book.”-YALSA (American Library Association) The Hub

First printing: Viking, November 2014: Book View Cafe 2018, re-edited for rerelease, July 2024

Hostage (Book Two of the Change series), co-authored with Rachel Manija Brown; re-issue August 2024

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The second book in the thrilling post-apocalyptic series. In a world of mutant powers and deadly creatures, the most terrible danger of all is a man bent on vengeance…

Against all odds, Las Anclas defended itself from Voske, the tyrant king of Gold Point. But he’s not done with Las Anclas. Voske wants revenge… and to use Ross’s unique power for himself. He kidnaps Ross and drags him to Gold Point. There Ross meets Kerry, Voske’s teenage daughter, who has been trained to be as ruthless as her father. While his friends in Las Anclas desperately try to rescue him, Ross is forced to engage in a battle of wills with the king himself…
First printed: Book View Cafe, January 2015

Praise for Hostage:

“The second book in The Change quartet does a lot of things the second book in the series should: opening the world further, adding some new and interesting characters, and raising the stakes to a whole new level that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat.” – BookBanter

“As a young adult librarian, I would suggest this series to teens who love post-apocalyptic fantasy worlds who also want to see themselves reflected in the characters. The series is incredibly diverse; the main characters are all people of color and LGBT characters are also well represented.” – Latinx in Kid Lit

“A rich and engaging addition to the YA field that subvert just about every conceivable received rule of that genre. If these books represent what organizations like We Need Diverse Books are working towards for readers of all ages, then the literary future is very bright indeed.” – Strange Horizons

Rebel: Book Three of The Change series, co-authored with Rachel Manija Brown; re-issue September 2024

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The third book in the thrilling post-apocalyptic series. In a world of mutant powers and deadly creatures, the greatest peril threatening Las Anclas comes from inside its walls…

The tyrant king Voske has been defeated, but all is not peaceful in Las Anclas. Ross’s past comes back to haunt him, Jennie struggles with her new career, Mia faces her fears, Felicite resorts to desperate measures to keep her secrets, Kerry suspects that Las Anclas hasn’t seen the last of her father, and shy Becky Callahan holds the key to a dangerous mystery. In Rebel, family ties can strangle as well as sustain, long-held secrets of past and present are revealed, and a new danger threatens to consume the entire town…

What readers are saying about Rebel:

“This is the best book in the Change series so far!”

“Highly enjoyable character-driven YA fantasy.”

“The worldbuilding is amazingly detailed and well thought out. I loved the Wild West setting, the references to our time period, the scary trees, and the unique wildlife. The action is exciting and fast paced. I kept turning the pages, anxious to see if my favourite characters were safe.”

“This book, just like the previous two volumes, is, above all, likable. Not just because it features a fascinating world and a whole set of likable characters, but also because the whole attitude of the authors – towards representation, towards diversity, towards portraying complex emotions well – makes it precious, and a deliciously immersive read.”

First printing: Book View Cafe, May 2017

Traitor (Book Four of the Change series), co-authored with Rachel Manija Brown; Forthcoming Oct. 10, 2024 from Book View Cafe

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The greatly anticipated final book in the Change series. In a world of mutant powers and deadly creatures, one small town faces its worst nightmare…

In a single shocking night, Las Anclas is conquered. Voske rules the town, remaking it in his image. He brings Opportunity Day to Las Anclas, with its terrifying lottery of “Change or die.” He forces Paco into the role of his son and prince, always watching him for signs of rebellion. And for those who escaped his net, he sends elite Changed soldiers to drag them back to be executed.

Inside Las Anclas, Paco and Becky play a nerve-shattering game of cat and mouse, plotting a resistance under Voske’s eye. Outside the walls, Ross, Mia, Jennie, and Kerry desperately evade pursuit and try to free their town. And Felicite, alone, must face the choice she’s given up everything to avoid.

In the darkness of defeat, can hope catch fire?



Kirkus (starred review)

Yes, it’s another post-apocalyptic series opener, but it’s infused with a generous spirit–call it a utopian dystopia.

The small, walled community of Las Anclas bears little resemblance to Los Angeles, whose ancient ruins sprawl nearby. To Ross, a badly wounded prospector fleeing a powerful enemy, it’s paradise compared to what he’s used to–to its residents, not so much. Yuki misses the freedom of the wild ocean and dreams of escaping with Paco. Engineer Mia loves blowing things up, but she feels socially awkward. Felicite, the daughter of the mayor and defense chief, knows precisely what she wants: to make half of a power couple with Indra, Jennie’s boyfriend. Jennie herself is delighted to be chosen as a Ranger, the town’s elite defense corps; she’d feared that prejudice against the Changed, people like her who’ve acquired strange powers, made her a long shot. Mia and Jennie, best friends, find themselves attracted to secretive Ross. Characterization is rich and stereotype-free. For gays and lesbians, sexual orientation is neither more nor less a defining characteristic than it is for heterosexuals. Equally exceptional is the depiction of conflict. The confusing adrenaline rush of war is followed by PTSD, its lingering afterimage. The five dynamic narrators and action-packed plot deliver thrills while slyly undermining genre cliches.

A first-rate page turner that leaves its own compelling afterimage.


Running from a bounty hunter, 18-year-old Ross Juarez seeks healing from his injuries and temporary asylum when he arrives in Las Anclas (known as Los Angeles before the worldwide disaster that, generations ago, caused mutations among some people and animals). With Dr. Lee and his daughter, Mia, the young prospector also gets a sense of home. Ross slowly makes both friends and enemies, but he isn’t safe, and neither are the people of Las Anclas when the king attacks the city, trying to capture both Ross and the rare book in his possession. Brown and Smith have collaborated beautifully in creating an alternative future planet, with strange creatures, changed people, and many dangers. What makes this book different from so many dystopian novels is the depth of character development (including both straight and gay romances), chapter points of view that rotate through five different characters, and the ease with which readers will be completely immersed in this world. Perfect for fans of Michael Grant’s GONE series. Expect more.

Melissa Moore


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