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MOONSTORM

From the Lancers series , Vol. 1

Action-packed space battles and strong worldbuilding will draw readers in.

A teen thrust into a space war learns to pilot a robot warrior, but secrets threaten destruction.

“Trust the Empress. Move at her will. Act as her hands.” These words keep the Empire of New Joseon strong and unified. Hwa Young, who grew up on a rebel clanner moon in the Moonstorm, must commit this motto to memory and take it to heart. When she was 10, the empire’s lancers (humanoid warrior robots) destroyed her home, leaving her orphaned. The empire took her in, and now, at age 16, Hwa Young is determined to prove her merit by becoming a lancer pilot. She gets her chance two years early, when her boarding school is attacked, and she and her classmates are taken aboard a starship—but something feels wrong. The training is rushed, and the higher ranks seem to be hiding something. When secrets are later revealed, Hwa Young must choose between her rebel roots and conformity to save everyone. This strong series opener features detailed worldbuilding that describes the clanner and empire societies, as well as the intricacies of the starships and lancers. The central conflict offers an interesting commentary on how different societies uphold faith, unity, and power. Many characters present nonbinary, using the pronouns zie/zir. The empire is rooted in Korean culture, with Korean food, traditions, and language woven throughout.

Action-packed space battles and strong worldbuilding will draw readers in. (map, character guide) (Science fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 4, 2024

ISBN: 9780593488331

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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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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CARAVAL

From the Caraval series , Vol. 1

Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations.

Magic, mystery, and love intertwine and invite in this newest take on the “enchanted circus” trope.

Sisters raised by their abusive father, a governor of a colonial backwater in a world vaguely reminiscent of the late 18th century, Scarlett and Donatella each long for something more. Scarlett, olive-skinned, dark of hair and attitude, longs for Caraval, the fabled, magical circus helmed by the possibly evil Master Legend Santos, while blonde, sunny Tella finds comfort in drink and the embraces of various men. A slightly awkward start, with inconsistencies of attitude and setting, rapidly smooths out when they, along with handsome “golden-brown” sailor Julian, flee to Caraval on the eve of Scarlett’s arranged marriage. Tella disappears, and Scarlett must navigate a nighttime world of magic to find her. Caraval delights the senses: beautiful and scary, described in luscious prose, this is a show readers will wish they could enter. Dresses can be purchased for secrets or days of life; clocks can become doors; bridges move: this is an inventive and original circus, laced with an edge of horror. A double love story, one sensual romance and the other sisterly loyalty, anchors the plot, but the real star here is Caraval and its secrets.

Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-09525-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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