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LAST CANTO OF THE DEAD

From the Outlaw Saints series , Vol. 2

A fierce and thrilling duology closer.

Two Brooklyn teenagers from the mysterious Caribbean island of San Madrigal face battles on different fronts.

In an engrossing sequel that starts right where Ballad & Dagger (2022) left off, Mateo Matisse opens by reflecting on what Chela Hidalgo means to him. In a few short weeks they’ve grown closer, and now there’s nothing he wouldn’t do to keep her safe. Their love and partnership encompass more than any ordinary adolescent love, however—they used to be powerful but formless spirits, but they have taken the forms of teenagers. Now that San Madrigal has reemerged from the sea, Mateo and Chela must figure out how their powers work, because new enemies are waiting for them, and the struggle to vanquish them and heal divisions in their community will test them. The contrast between their godlike natures and the limitations of inhabiting young human bodies is an element that is well balanced throughout the book, and it makes the protagonists both flawed and sympathetic. Each strength of the former book is present in this volume: the musicality, the effortless racial and ethnic diversity, the themes of anti-colonization, and, perhaps most important, Older’s narrative choices. Mateo and Chela truly sound like teenagers in their alternating first-person point-of-view chapters, making it easy for readers to be immersed in their reality and root for them.

A fierce and thrilling duology closer. (glossary) (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 16, 2023

ISBN: 9781368070904

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents/Disney

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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