An action-packed thrill ride and stellar head trip.

GEMINA

From the Illuminae Files series , Vol. 2

Continuing Illuminae’s (2015) story, Kaufman and Kristoff explore what went down on Jump Station Heimdall while the spaceship Hypatia was trying to get there.

This time around, the found-footage–style collage narration (instant messages, radio conversations, video transcripts, diary pages, and the like) is framed as evidence at a tribunal investigating the activities of BeiTech Industries. The station commander’s white teenage daughter, Hanna, and her white drug dealer, Nik, avoid death and capture when a multiracial commando team of BeiTech “auditors” board Heimdall to take over its wormhole (which badly needs maintenance) for a BeiTech drone assault fleet sent to eliminate Kerenza’s witnesses. With lots of sneaking, combat, quick thinking, and the crucial help of Nik’s younger cousin Ella (a quippy, brilliant hacker disabled by a space plague she barely survived), they throw everything they have against their better-armed and -trained assailants. But the drug operation relies on mind-eating, multiheaded, predatory parasites with psychoactive venom, and with the cartel out of action, the carefully tended newborns get loose on the station, and are they ever hungry! Tension snowballs with each new small complication, resulting in a read harder to put down with each page. Despite superficial similarities (protagonists and formatting—not all final art seen) to Illuminae, forward plot motion and surprises right up to the cliffhanger ending keep this its own book.

An action-packed thrill ride and stellar head trip. (Science fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-49915-5

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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An inspirational read.

THE LIGHT IN HIDDEN PLACES

A true story of faith, love, and heroism.

Stefania “Fusia” Podgórska longed for nothing more than to leave the rural Polish farm she was born on for the city of Przemyśl where her older sisters lived. At the age of 12, she did just that, finding a job with the Diamants, a family of Jewish shopkeepers who welcomed her into their lives. For three years they lived peacefully until the Germans dropped bombs on Przemyśl. The family struggled on as the war and anti-Semitism ramped up, but eventually, the Diamants were forced into a ghetto. Then 17, Catholic Fusia was determined to help them survive, even at the risk of her own safety, while also caring for her 6-year-old sister, Helena, after their family was taken by the Nazis for forced labor. Knowing the risks involved, Fusia made a bold decision to harbor Jews. As the number of people she sheltered increased, so did her panic about being caught, but she was determined to do what was right. Cameron (The Knowing, 2017, etc.) used Stefania’s unpublished memoir as well as interviews with family members as source material. She deftly details Fusia’s brave actions and includes moving family photographs in the author’s note. Narrated in the first person, the story highlights essential events in Fusia’s life while maintaining a consistent pace. Readers will be pulled in by the compelling opening and stay for the emotional journey.

An inspirational read. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35593-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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