From the Lightlark series , Vol. 2


Having broken several ancient curses in the opener, Lightlark (2022), Isla has to make a high-stakes choice between her virtuous Sunling lover and her hot Nightshade one.

Supplying a punchy title but playing no significant role in the actual story, the eponymous flower makes a good emblem for a rambling follow-up that includes lots of angst and stabbing but neither substance nor a coherent storyline. Having stolen Isla’s memories of their forbidden love, the centuries-old, “filthy, deadly—surprisingly attractive—Nightshade” Grim announces that he’ll return in 30 days to destroy the island of Lightlark: “You can choose to flee to your newlands…or join me in a new future.” Complicating matters, Isla’s current beau, the aptly named, equally ancient Oro, is Lightlark’s king. This advance warning of impending doom allows time for Isla to recall in backtracking flashbacks, bit by strung-out, tantalizing bit, how her supposed nemesis is nothing of the sort (which readers of the first volume will already well know). She also fills in the time by struggling to control her newly won magical powers, while setting off to marshal alliances and tour her new lands. Despite a dire prophecy regarding her hunky lovers, a series of increasingly steamy scenes culminate in a spectacularly anticlimactic face-off that exposes one of their motives. Characters are diverse in skin tone.

Slapdash. (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781419760907

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023


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


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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