An action-packed tale for those thirsty for more superhero stories.

GIRL ON FIRE

Grammy Award–winning artist Keys co-authors a YA superhero graphic novel bearing the title of her hit song.

Smart, quiet 14-year-old Loretta “Lolo” Wright struggles to stand up for herself until, on what should be a routine trip to a convenience store, her 16-year-old brother, James, is mistakenly accused of stealing by the police. When the officer slams her brother to the ground, Lolo’s powers manifest for the first time. Meanwhile, Michael Warner, who lives in the same Brooklyn housing projects as the Wrights, is rejected from the football team for being too small. He develops exceptional fighting abilities and shortly afterward gets involved in working for a drug dealer named Skin. When Skin sees a video of Lolo levitating the cop who assaulted James, he wants to recruit her as well, and he tries to extort protection money from Lolo’s dad, who owns a moving business. Lolo must convince Michael to choose a different path; it’s only by working together that they can defeat Skin. Featuring dizzying shifts among multiple perspectives, this full-color graphic novel presents vibrant, expressive characters set against mostly simple, bright backgrounds, with extreme violence depicted in gory detail. The narrative briefly explores class issues and racial stereotypes, but while the setup is intriguing, the momentum fizzles and the pieces never quite come together. Most main characters are Black; Skin reads as White, and secondary characters appear racially diverse.

An action-packed tale for those thirsty for more superhero stories. (Graphic fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-302956-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HarperAlley

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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

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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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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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