Awkward prose notwithstanding, this is for anyone who’s gazed longingly upward.

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APOLLO'S OUTCASTS

Despite prose weaknesses, this space adventure with spectacular settings demonstrates that sometimes you can’t keep a good plot down.

One August night in 2097, in suburban Maryland, Jamey’s father wakes him at midnight and tells him to pack a bag and hurry. The family piles into their van, and Dad inches it down the street with headlights off. The president’s dead and the dangerous vice president’s detaining activist scientists like Dad, who intends to hide his kids “[t]he last place [the government would] ever think of looking”: Apollo colony, on the moon. But shuttle launches are no secret. Soon after the rushed launch, Navy jets and a missile barely miss taking them down. Jamey finds himself fighting propaganda campaigns and a lunar ground battle against the corrupt U.S. regime—all while getting accustomed to living on the moon, where, due to lower gravity, he can walk without his wheelchair for the first time. Nitty-gritty details about space travel, astronomy and lunar geography and geology (Apollo's mines provide “the principal source of Earth’s energy reserves”) are fascinating yet tightly crammed and hard to decipher. Steele’s text is ever-factual, which is alienating during emotional dialogue. But nothing beats learning what it’s like to walk around the moon and how the Earth appears from there.

Awkward prose notwithstanding, this is for anyone who’s gazed longingly upward. (Science fiction. 11-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61614-686-3

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Pyr/Prometheus Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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May well beguile readers with its mix of magic and political intrigue.

SHIELDED

From the Shielded series , Vol. 1

A princess fights to save her kingdom while trying to conceal her magic.

On the eve of her 17th birthday, Princess Jennesara learns of her betrothal to the prince of Turia, an alliance made by her father to secure the neighboring kingdom’s military support in quelling the fighting at his borders. Before she is sent away to safety in Turia, she learns of other worrying developments brewing at home: A burned letter references a search for the mages’ library, illicit magic is being used in skirmishes at the borders, and there is a potential betrayal within her father’s circle of trust. She frets, too, about her own secret magic being discovered, for only her older brother, Ren, is supposed to possess magic. On their way to Turia, Jenna’s party is ambushed and she narrowly escapes. She is forced to fend for herself and find her own way to Turia to discover who betrayed her family and what secrets lie in the rumored mages’ library. Jenna conceals her identity and ingratiates herself with her betrothed’s family as she eludes the threat of a shadowy, sinister foe. Though overflowing with common fantasy tropes and featuring lengthy expository passages, this series opener nevertheless features affable characters and moves at a solid clip that will keep readers entertained. Jenna’s people are fair-haired while Turians are olive-skinned with dark hair.

May well beguile readers with its mix of magic and political intrigue. (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11853-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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