A thoughtful and sensitive exploration of corrupt powers and personal responsibility, especially in today’s stormy political...

BLIGHT

In Duncan’s dystopian novel, the United States is run by agribusinesses that control all food production.

Seventeen-year-old Tempest doesn’t know much beyond the AgraStar farm where she lives and works as a guard. Her main priority is keeping lazy scavengers, people who live outside of the system, away from the crops. This all changes when a raid goes wrong and a group of scavengers accidentally sets off a blight that kills all plants and humans in its path. Before her farm is completely destroyed, Tempest manages to get her hands on blight-resistant seeds. As the blight continues to spread, she must get the seeds to AgraStar’s headquarters in Atlanta. Necessity leads Tempest to travel with Alder, a scavenger who’s determined not to let the seeds fall into AgraStar’s hands. Duncan’s knack for character development shines through as Tempest is steadily exposed to the darker side of AgraStar and begins to question everything she’s been taught and her place in it. Though well-paced and intelligently written, the novel stumbles when Tempest makes a startling discovery in Atlanta that is never resolved before the story ends abruptly—readers will hope the flap-copy statement that this is a stand-alone isn’t really telling the truth. Tempest is a brown-skinned Latina, but in this society, she’s not able to really explore her heritage—a poignant subplot.

A thoughtful and sensitive exploration of corrupt powers and personal responsibility, especially in today’s stormy political climate. (Science fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-239699-0

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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