A sequel that destroys the goodwill established by its predecessor.

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NOBLE WARRIOR

From the Caged Warrior series , Vol. 2

A teenage mixed martial arts genius works covert ops for the U.S. government.

It's been 10 months since the witness protection program whisked McCutcheon "M.D." Daniels and his little sister away from their miserable lives in Detroit. In that time, M.D. has been working with the military, training in the arts of black ops, and occasionally going into the field and using his unique set of skills to catch predators. Meanwhile, back home, the Priests have targeted M.D.'s abandoned flame and his father in efforts to draw the boy that got away out from hiding. It all comes to a head with an undercover M.D. entering Jentles State Prison, a facility notorious for breaking prisoners beyond imagination. Sitomer's Caged Warrior (2014) was an exciting action thriller that leaned into its darkest elements in smart, interesting ways. Unfortunately this sequel can't pull off the same balancing act. This scenario involving top-secret government agencies and Supermax prisons is completely removed from the reality established in the previous book. Instead of escalating the stakes, the author has blown them up to comic-book levels. When everything is so big and so tough and so gritty and so violent, there's no room for hope, nor is there much room for reader engagement. The book concludes with a beat that feels cribbed from The Shawshank Redemption and a hint at further books. Few readers will want to follow.

A sequel that destroys the goodwill established by its predecessor. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: July 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4847-0528-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else.

ALL THIS TIME

A modern-day fairy tale about two teenagers suffering from loss who find healing in one another.

Despite the ups and downs in their relationship, Kyle and Kimberly have always made up, and Kyle looks forward to attending college together after graduation. But on the night they should be celebrating, Kimberly confesses that she has committed to a different college and breaks up with him. As they argue, their car crashes, and Kyle later wakes up in the hospital and learns that Kimberly is dead. In his grief, Kyle blames himself for her death. He struggles to leave his bed most days, ignores calls from his and Kimberly’s best friend, Sam, and has visions of Kimberly and life before the accident. One day, while visiting Kimberly’s grave, he meets Marley, a girl who likes telling stories and is mourning the death of her twin sister. Predictably, their natural affinity for one another evolves into romance. It is unfortunate that Kyle essentially moves from one romantic relationship to another on his journey to better understanding himself and his co-dependence on those closest to him, although his gradual development into a more considerate person redeems him. The pacing remains even until the critical plot disruption, resulting in the rest of the story feeling disjointed and rushed. All characters are White.

For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6634-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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