It’s fine in pace and flow but disintegrates under scrutiny.

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THE EXO PROJECT

Can humans settle another planet before it’s too late?

Earth is slowly dying. To fund cancer treatment for his mother, currently in cryogenic stasis, 17-year-old Matthew volunteers to be cryogenically frozen and sent 100 light-years away to one of thousands of potentially habitable planets. There’s no return—he’ll message Earth the results, and if the planet’s unviable, he’ll take a suicide pill. On Gle’ah, Matthew’s destination planet, 17-year-old Kiva leads a pre-industrial, matriarchal society. Debut novelist DeYoung crams in multitudes of plot points—cross-universe, destined romance, politics and violence on Gle’ah, weapons of mass destruction, telepathy, magical healing, drugs, and a mass shooting. A multiperspective narrative approach gives readers broad information but contains only mild characterization; main characters, especially Matthew, read like place holders. Dunne, a middle-aged black woman on Matthew’s team, specializes in particle physics and medicine but goes largely unconsulted regarding the plot’s pivotal decision; instead, white teen Matthew makes the core decision alone. Kiva’s people are “exactly like humans in every way” except for their gray skin, resulting in a culture of not-quite-white people without characters of color. The scientific/religious explanations for phenomena on Gle’ah will remind readers of Star Wars’ midi-chlorians—and not in a good way. See Beth Revis’ Across the Universe (2011) for cryogenics and Phoebe North’s Starglass (2013) for romance destined across the stars.

It’s fine in pace and flow but disintegrates under scrutiny. (Science fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62979-610-9

Page Count: 455

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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A purple page turner.

CLOCKWORK PRINCE

From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 2

This sequel to Clockwork Angel (2010) pits gorgeous, attractively broken teens against a menacing evil.

There's betrayal, mayhem and clockwork monstrosities, and the Shadowhunters have only two weeks to discover—oh, who are we kidding? The plot is only surprisingly tasty icing on this cupcake of a melodramatic love triangle. Our heroes are Tessa, who may or may not be a warlock, and the beautiful Shadowhunter warrior boys who are moths to her forbidden flame. It's not always clear why Tessa prefers Will to his beloved (and only) friend Jem, the dying, silver-eyed, biracial sweetheart with the face of an angel. Jem, after all, is gentle and kind, her dearest confidante; Will is unpleasant to everyone around him. But poor, wretched Will—who "would have been pretty if he had not been so tall and so muscular"—has a deep, dark, thoroughly emo secret. His trauma puts all previous romantic difficulties to shame, from the Capulet/Montague feud all the way to Edward Cullen's desire to chomp on Bella Swan. Somehow there's room for an interesting steampunk mystery amid all this angst. The supporting characters (unusually well-developed for a love-triangle romance) include multiple compelling young women who show strength in myriad ways. So what if there are anachronisms, character inconsistencies and weird tonal slips? There's too much overwrought fun to care.

A purple page turner. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7588-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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Though it’s a bit of a slog, readers of Book 1 will find it worth the time for its unexpected conclusion

THE SHADOW'S CURSE

A lost prince and his ladylove must defeat the tyrant rampaging over the steppes with an army of enslaved spirits in this sequel to The Oathbreaker’s Shadow (2015).

Raim is haunted by the spirit of his best friend, Khareh—a spirit that appeared when Raim accidentally broke an oath made by another, leaving him magically marked and exiled from his nomadic tribe as an oathbreaker. Khareh yet lives, but with the best part of himself lost in the spirit, his ambition has become megalomania. Not content to be khan of his tribe alone, Khareh aims to join all the northern nomads into one massive khanate. Raim seeks control over his spirit but also yearns to rescue Wadi, the dark-skinned desert girl to whom he's given his heart. Wadi is Khareh's captive, and she is more than capable of freeing herself from the cruel young khan; nevertheless she must stay a captive. It's her destiny to make a king of Raim, she learns from a blind seer in one of the stalest tropes of superpowered disability. Raim, Khareh, and Wadi travel all over the steppes of Darhan, giving a solid glimpse of this fantasy world roughly based on the lives of Mongolian nomads. A dense narrative of tiny chapters with shifting points of view leaves little time to become invested in each character's journey.

Though it’s a bit of a slog, readers of Book 1 will find it worth the time for its unexpected conclusion . (Fantasy. 13-15)

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7387-4512-1

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Flux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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