"An intriguing, intensely readable combination of Game of Thrones and the New Testament."– Kirkus Reviews
Mayhem reigns as a dying boy and an outcast girl are boosted to the level of miraculous superhumans and thrust into violent battle against monstrous forces (or each other).
Though the title is lifted from a contemporary pop-song anthem and the protagonists are both teenagers, author Kennedy’s action-fantasy has R-level violence, erotica, and horror, despite intermittent YA settings and concerns. Terminally ill with scleroderma, the fatherless, brilliant Pax James Black was not expected to live past 10. Now, at 15, he languishes at Columbia University Medical Center, attended by his only real friend, lonely high school outcast Scarlett. But his near-death experiences have given Pax an ability to leave his ruined body and visit the “astral plane,” where the human prodigy cultivated relationships with cosmic spirit-beings, like Terkun’shuks’pai, or “Terry.” Normally, such occult entities hide their existence from trouble-prone Earth folk. When Terry confers a new “astral” body on a dying Pax—and the effects bleed onto Scarlett—the reason for this secrecy becomes clear. The newly superpowered couple, their every uncontrolled impulse a godlike, destructive force, spreads chaos and carnage throughout NYC and beyond (they also have meltingly hot sex, losing their virginity to each other in their new superforms). Moreover, the youths draw out of the shadows an assortment of malicious “negative energy” thingies, some native to Earth, others a threat to the entire universe (whew). Replete with action, sea monsters, murders/resurrections, government spooks, bad robots, classroom mean girls getting what they deserve Lovecraft-style, a rewrite of the Garden of Eden, and interdimensional alien space-invasion, Kennedy’s roller-coaster narrative is overstuffed with the stuff that certain extreme-genre fans (probably hard-core gamers on the side) enjoy being overstuffed with. Sequels are promised.
The sort of teen horror-fantasy that would play well for high school heshers drawing horror comics in study hall.
A high school junior discovers her werewolf heritage in this teen fantasy debut.
Sixteen-year-old Kyra lives in Butte, Montana, with her adoptive father, Caleb. One strange aspect of their relationship is that Caleb and Kyra can communicate telepathically. The other is that she doesn’t remember her life before he took her in six years ago—nor the accident that broke her right leg, making it shorter than the left. For junior year, Kyra’s given herself a startling punk makeover to offset the awkwardness of her leg brace. But high school bullies, led by Selene Hunter, still make her life hell: on the bus ride to school, while the two girls are shoving each other, Kyra’s locket snaps from her neck. She scoops up the gift from Caleb but has to exit the bus because her skin is blistering. Then, in the nearby woods, Kyra transforms into a giant wolf. Later, Caleb explains that the locket contains wolfsbane, to halt the transformations and keep her hidden, because there are those who would hunt Kyra for her regenerative abilities. Memories of her first 10 years as a wolf have already started returning, however, in addition to incredible hearing and smelling capabilities. Can Kyra stay ahead of the hunters long enough to sniff out her mother and sister? Debut author Kennedy dives into the crowded genre with a juicy, humorous yet violent offering. Clever prose—as when Kyra doesn’t want “to be somebody the bullies could pick their teeth with”—maintains the high school atmosphere while foreshadowing gory action. The transformation scenes are perfectly reminiscent of legendary films such as An American Werewolf in London: Kyra says, “The skin on my face stretched to its limits and then cracked open.” Surprisingly, Kyra’s tale wraps up early and is followed by a second starring her sister in a fresh series of locations. Kennedy entwines the stories by using far-reaching villains, including the werewolves’ rivals, the Wind Folk. Ultimately, the tight focus on lore-building (such as wolf superhealing, unless injured by another wolf) should ensnare audiences.
A focused debut that’s as funny as it is violent.
A dark fantasy about an alliance between the Queen of Hell and the Son of God.
Kennedy’s riveting fantasy debut subverts the familiar biblical moment when Jesus, fasting in the desert, is tempted by Satan, who tells him that if he’s hungry, he should turn the desert stones into bread. In the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus reprimands Satan and rejects him. Readers familiar with that story will get the first of many shocks when they encounter a similar moment in Kennedy’s novel—not only because Nyx, the sultry, eloquent Queen of Hell, does the tempting instead of Satan, but also because the Son of God (here named Tribunal) hates the human race he’s been sent to Earth to save: “They are vile,” he tells her, later adding, “God should have destroyed them all. He should have brought back the waters and swept life from this world.” When God recalls all the angels from Earth except Nyx and her fellow “Descended,” the demons find themselves free to torment the human race at Tribunal’s behest. Kennedy’s narrative expertly hops from one time period to another, from the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire to the corruption of popes during the Middle Ages to the bloody wars of the Crusades. He fills these vignettes with vivid, if plentifully profane, dialogue and fast-paced action as Nyx follows Tribunal’s plan to wipe out the human race and make the world over into his version of paradise. Kennedy infuses his novel with dozens of characters from Judeo-Christian literature (including Jesus, Judas, Peter and the archangel Michael), but the willful, sexually provocative Nyx is by far the book’s most complex character and the wild card that subverts the narrative. The novel’s explicitness seems guaranteed to offend some readers, particularly devout Christians, but it carries off its conceit of transforming historical and biblical content into high fantasy with a great deal of skill and wit.
An intriguing, intensely readable combination of Game of Thrones and the New Testament.