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An uplifting read about love and acceptance in a chaotic universe.

A young woman must save the universe and fulfill her destiny.

In an effort to maintain balance in the universe, creator god Indigo existed in opposition to god of Destruction Ozvios. But Indigo died and was reborn in the body of teenager Zaira Citlali, who lives on Mal Ares, a planet colonized by the Ilori Empire, which is allied with Ozvios. Zaira is the last nightweaver, someone who can harness the power of music. Indigo used songs to create life, and harmonious song can defeat Ozvios—if all the planets can come together. But Zaira must learn to awaken Indigo’s power within herself before the Ilori can sacrifice her to Ozvios. Narrowly escaping death, Zaira seeks pilot Wesley Daniels, the Andarran empath her grandmother insists she must find, for help defeating Ozvios and the Ilori emperor in an intergalactic war. This novel interweaves first-person narratives from Zaira and Wesley with podcast transcripts, song lyrics, and other interludes. The result is a rock-solid story filled with introspection, humor, suspenseful twists, and fully developed characters and in which intricate worldbuilding details and plot elements are seamlessly and cleverly interwoven. Wesley falls for charismatic podcaster Rubin Rima, whose characterization evokes hilarity and compassion. The novel speaks to real-life experiences of colonization and trauma through its Black protagonists whose experiences propel them toward restored faith in humanity. “Thick, strong, and sturdy” Zaira is a wonderfully body-positive lead.

An uplifting read about love and acceptance in a chaotic universe. (Science fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781335453723

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2023

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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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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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