A sequel that gets better and better the longer it steeps.

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DARIUS THE GREAT DESERVES BETTER

From the Darius the Great series , Vol. 2

A second chapter for the endearingly sweet, Star Trek­–loving “Fractional Persian” Darius Kellner.

Visiting Iran. Scoring the internship of his dreams at Rose City Teas. Playing on his high school’s varsity men’s soccer team—where his awesome teammates keep the bullies at bay. Having a lot of fun kissing Landon, a prospective first boyfriend with “television cheekbones.” But even all these highs can’t keep Darius’ depression at bay. Landon might be cute—and Darius’ Persian mother certainly approves of Landon’s cooking abilities—but he keeps pressuring Darius to go beyond kissing when he isn’t ready. Darius also worries about his terminally ill grandfather and best friend, Sohrab, both “half a world away” in Iran. Family troubles and confusing feelings for a teammate only exacerbate the “burning plasma reactor feeling” in Darius’ chest. With rich characters and multilayered storytelling, Khorram’s sophomore effort deepens the complexity of Darius’ world. Blending broad themes like consent and toxic masculinity with the specificity of Darius’ intersectional identity (gay, White and Iranian), this coming-of-age masterpiece packs a multitude of truth and heart. As “super white” as the Portland, Oregon, setting may be, Khorram takes care to incorporate the diversity that does exist within the city. While the first volume focused heavily on Darius’ relationship with his dad, this one expands the focus, balancing tough situations with a hopeful undercurrent.

A sequel that gets better and better the longer it steeps. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10823-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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In the end, it’s just another violent dystopian series opener for all its yellow-brick veneer, but it’s a whole lot more fun...

DOROTHY MUST DIE

When a cyclone deposits a 21st-century Kansas teen in Oz, she and readers discover there’ve been some changes made.

Dirt-poor “Salvation Amy” Gumm lives in a trailer park, effectively parenting her alcoholic mom (her dad ran off years ago), who seems to care more about her pet rat, Star, than her daughter. That doesn’t mean Amy is eager to be in Oz, particularly this Oz. Tyrannized by a megalomaniacal Dorothy and mined of its magic, it’s a dystopian distortion of the paradise Baum and MGM depicted. In short order, Amy breaks the wholly capricious laws and is thrown into a cell in the Emerald City with only Star for company. There, she’s visited first by the mysterious but sympathetic Pete and then by the witch Mombi, who breaks her out and takes her to the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked (among whom is the very hot Nox). Amy may well be the salvation of Oz—only someone from the Other Place can take Dorothy down. Paige has clearly had the time of her life with this reboot, taking a dystopian-romance template and laying it over Oz. Readers of Baum’s books will take special delight in seeing new twists on the old characters, and they will greet the surprise climactic turnabout with the smugness of insiders.

In the end, it’s just another violent dystopian series opener for all its yellow-brick veneer, but it’s a whole lot more fun than many of its ilk. (Dystopian fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-228067-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends.

RED QUEEN

From the Red Queen series , Vol. 1

Amid a war and rising civil unrest, a young thief discovers the shocking power within her that sparks a revolution.

At 17, Mare knows that without an apprenticeship or job, her next birthday will bring a conscription to join the war. She contributes to her poor family’s income the only way she can, stealing from the Silvers, who possess myriad powers and force her and her fellow Reds into servitude. The Silvers literally bleed silver, and they can manipulate metal, plants and animals, among many other talents. When Mare’s best friend, Kilorn, loses his job and is doomed to conscription, she is determined to change his fate. She stumbles into a mysterious stranger after her plan goes awry and is pulled out of her village and into the world of Silver royalty. Once inside the palace walls, it isn’t long before Mare learns that powers unknown to red-blooded humans lie within her, powers that could lead a revolution. Familiar tropes abound. Mare is revealed as a great catalyst for change among classes and is groomed from rags to riches, and of course, seemingly kind characters turn out to be foes. However, Aveyard weaves a compelling new world, and Mare and the two men in her life evolve intriguingly as class tension rises. Revolution supersedes romance, setting the stage for action-packed surprises.

An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-231063-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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