This sequel to Meridian (2009) opens three weeks after 16-year-old Meridian, a part-human/part-angel Fenestra, or “window”...

WILDCAT FIREFLIES

From the Meridian series , Vol. 2

Adolescence is hard enough without having to save the world from death and destruction.

This sequel to Meridian (2009) opens three weeks after 16-year-old Meridian, a part-human/part-angel Fenestra, or “window” that helps dying souls pass on, and her protector/boyfriend Tens saved a Colorado town from Nocti (evil spirits in human form that try to send souls to hell). They’re traveling the country, looking for fellow Fenestras, when Meridian feels drawn to Carmel, Ind. Fifteen-year-old Juliet, an unknowing Fenestra, has been living in this sleepy town at a center that doubles as an group home for the elderly and a foster-care home. The teens’ alternating viewpoints tell this hefty story, which, like many second novels in a series, builds on the first but ultimately leads up to a third. Meridian provides back story, uses her great-aunt’s journal to discover more about Fenestras and schemes to find Juliet and save her before she’s forced by Nocti to become one of their own. All the while she ponders her free will, her developing body and why Tens keeps putting off their first time having sex. Meanwhile, Juliet gives (over and over again) a look at her abusive situation—she’s constantly punished and must care nonstop for the residents—and her burgeoning Fenestra talents.

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-385-73971-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers...

NEVER FALL DOWN

A harrowing tale of survival in the Killing Fields.

The childhood of Arn Chorn-Pond has been captured for young readers before, in Michelle Lord and Shino Arihara's picture book, A Song for Cambodia (2008). McCormick, known for issue-oriented realism, offers a fictionalized retelling of Chorn-Pond's youth for older readers. McCormick's version begins when the Khmer Rouge marches into 11-year-old Arn's Cambodian neighborhood and forces everyone into the country. Arn doesn't understand what the Khmer Rouge stands for; he only knows that over the next several years he and the other children shrink away on a handful of rice a day, while the corpses of adults pile ever higher in the mango grove. Arn does what he must to survive—and, wherever possible, to protect a small pocket of children and adults around him. Arn's chilling history pulls no punches, trusting its readers to cope with the reality of children forced to participate in murder, torture, sexual exploitation and genocide. This gut-wrenching tale is marred only by the author's choice to use broken English for both dialogue and description. Chorn-Pond, in real life, has spoken eloquently (and fluently) on the influence he's gained by learning English; this prose diminishes both his struggle and his story.

Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers will seek out the history themselves. (preface, author's note) (Historical fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-173093-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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