A compelling debut.

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A RIVER OF ROYAL BLOOD

From the River of Royal Blood series , Vol. 1

Princess Evalina Killeen attempts to tap into her magical abilities in preparation for a magical showdown.

Eva has always known she was born with the feared magick of marrow and blood which she is supposed to use in a fight to the death with her sister, Isa, for the queendom once they both come of age. But Eva’s only accessed her magic twice, and both times its violence frightened her. Mere months before her nameday, Eva is desperately searching for a magick teacher when she stumbles across Baccha, a fey of immense power who shares her magical abilities. Though Eva is often empathetic, she’s sometimes whiny, and her lack of awareness and acknowledgement of her own privilege—and complete obliviousness toward other people’s needs—may irritate readers. However, as she learns to access her magic and begins uncovering family secrets, she also continues to grapple with the current and historical bias (species, not color, based) of Myre, whose diverse population is made up of humans, fey, bloodkin, and khimaer. Her willingness to question the status quo may help readers forgive her for being otherwise self-centered and sometimes rash. A surprising twist and multiple unsolved mysteries will leave readers looking forward to the next book. Black-haired Eva is biracial (her father is brown-skinned while her mother has light pink skin) while Isa has golden hair and lighter brown skin. Supporting characters are racially diverse.

A compelling debut. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51858-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in...

DEAR MARTIN

In this roller-coaster ride of a debut, the author summons the popular legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. to respond to the recent tragic violence befalling unarmed black men and boys.

Seventeen-year-old black high school senior Justyce McAllister, a full-scholarship student at the virtually all-white Braselton Prep, is the focus. After a bloody run-in with the police when they take his good deed for malice, Justyce seeks meaning in a series of letters with his “homie” Dr. King. He writes, “I thought if I made sure to be an upstanding member of society, I’d be exempt from the stuff THOSE black guys deal with, you know?” While he’s ranked fourth in his graduating class and well-positioned for the Ivy League, Justyce is coming to terms with the fact that there’s not as much that separates him from “THOSE black guys” as he’d like to believe. Despite this, Stone seems to position Justyce and his best friend as the decidedly well-mannered black children who are deserving of readers’ sympathies. They are not those gangsters that can be found in Justyce’s neighborhood. There’s nuance to be found for sure, but not enough to upset the dominant narrative. What if they weren’t the successful kids? While the novel intentionally leaves more questions than it attempts to answer, there are layers that still remain between the lines.

Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in the face. Take interest and ask questions. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93949-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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