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Cohesive and engaging.

Adventures continue in this follow-up to Star Wars: Queen’s Peril (2020).

With the tumultuous tides of war sweeping the galaxy, Senator Amidala and her former look-alike handmaidens grapple with their changing relationships as they embark on their own missions of politics, espionage, and self-discovery. After the Battle of Geonosis, Padmé Amidala returns to Naboo for healing and for her wedding. She has dedicated her life to serving others, but now she wants something entirely for herself—as well, of course, as Jedi Padawan Anakin Skywalker, the man she loves. However, the secret of their relationship weighs on her heart, and she struggles with how much to share with the handmaidens who once knew every facet of her life. Meanwhile, duty returns Sabé to being Padmé’s double, though she discovers the role may not fit her anymore. Back in the Chommell sector, Saché adjusts to the responsibilities of her own political career. Johnston delicately twists together multiple, disparate perspectives and drama with strong social and political themes, like colonization and community-led justice initiatives. The wider cast reflects a diverse galaxy, including one transgender and one nonbinary/genderfluid character (although their identities are explored through the gaze of cisgender characters, which detracts from the otherwise casual nature of their inclusion). This sequel builds on relationships established in the earlier books and demands familiarity with the events of Star Wars: Episodes I and II. A satisfying resolution models healthy boundary setting in loving relationships.

Cohesive and engaging. (Science fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-368-07593-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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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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From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 3

A thrilling, climactic storm with an abrupt conclusion.

In this much-anticipated trilogy closer following 2019’s Children of Virtue and Vengeance, an enemy from a land across the sea carries out conquests to fulfill a prophecy that threatens the entire world.

The war between the maji and the crown of Orïsha ends when the Skulls, a tribe of masked, pale-skinned invaders, interrupt the pivotal battle, abducting Zélie, Tzain, Amari, Inan, and dozens of maji from their homeland. Caged on a ship and cut off from their magic, they have no choice but to set aside their bitterness and distrust to fight for their freedom. Ruthless and empowered by the volatile magic of bloodmetal weapons, the Skulls hunt for Zélie, “a girl with the blood of the sun,” at the command of their king, Baldyr, who prepares for his ascension to godhood during the Blood Moon. As much as she longs to return home, visions and an intertwined fate pull Zélie, along with her companions, to the land of New Gaīa in search of a girl with russet-brown skin and eyes that glitter like diamonds. United goals, fresh conflict, and impending doom provide invigorating gusts of momentum that push the story out of the doldrums of the previous book. On its own, this installment is a suspenseful and compelling expansion of the world, but as a series finale, the conflict seems disconnected from the first two books, and the resolution feels rushed.

A thrilling, climactic storm with an abrupt conclusion. (guide to clans) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 25, 2024


Page Count: 368

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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