THE PREY

From the Hunt series , Vol. 2

Out of the vampire-hunting-ground frying pan into the freakish-religious-cult fire.

Gene, Sissy and the boys aren't free of the bloodsuckers yet. Their thrilling escape from the hunting compound at the conclusion of The Hunt (2012) brought them to a serendipitous boat; now they rocket down the river as the monstrously strong vampires pursue them by night. Will their quest lead them to the promised Land of Milk and Honey, Fruit and Sunshine? A hidden village of generous, well-fed, happily singing villagers seems to glow with all the hope of their promised paradise. But all is not well in this compound: Gene worries that Sissy is forced to stay apart from both the boys and the village's eerily cheerful and heavily pregnant girls. As further evidence of wrongness, the village's charismatic leader has "smooth, effeminate" skin, and he and his henchmen are "all blubber and liquid fat"—clear indicators of his untrustworthiness and the general air of sexual violence. The standard creepy-cult-compound chapter of many a dystopian series is enhanced by a fast-paced escape sequence, peppered with the grotesqueries that mark Fukuda's vampire mythos. A few mysteries are solved, only to reveal further puzzles, and it all wraps up with a cinematic cliffhanger. A lengthy interlude in creepsterville, with the promise of a return to gory thrills. (Science fiction. 14-16)

 

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-250-00511-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2012

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It’s imaginative enough, but it lacks the convincing philosophical worldbuilding essential to successful fantasy.

THE TEMPLE OF DOUBT

From the Temple of Doubt series , Vol. 1

A fantasy series opener pits adolescent angst against an all-powerful religion.

Living in Port Sapphire, on the island of New Meridian in the world of Kuldor, almost-16-year-old Hadara chafes under the tenets of a religion headed by the god Nihil that teaches that magic is superior to anything in nature. Since Hadara and her mother continue the passed-down-in-the-female-line family business of concocting healing potions from plants, the two are regarded with suspicion even as their services are sought out by townspeople. When an object falls from the sky into the marsh, Azwans (mages of Nihil) and their oversized Feroxi guards arrive to investigate, complicating things for Hadara and her family, not least because Hadara begins to have feelings for one of the guards. Although Hadara is a delightfully pert narrator, the story’s foremost tension—her subversive doubt of Nihil’s tenets—fails to reach its full potential because the religious concepts are not convincingly clear enough to weave themselves inextricably into the story. Levy shines brightest in her potent descriptions of settings and her imaginative scenes. Continuity, however, is a recurring problem. Among other lapses, the first two chapters seem to be two separate beginnings.

It’s imaginative enough, but it lacks the convincing philosophical worldbuilding essential to successful fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63220-427-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Forgettable. (Fiction. 14-16)

HIT

A dual-narrator novel explores the concept of forgiveness.

Budding poet Sarah is torn between two colleges: Mills, which has offered her a full scholarship, and the University of Washington, whose only appeal is Mr. Haddings. A grad student and poet-in-residence at her school, the charismatic Haddings has Sarah considering a change of plans, to the dismay of Sarah’s controlling mother. Haddings knows he needs to keep the relationship professional, but he’s having a hard time with that. Then, in a moment of distraction, Haddings hits Sarah with his car. Over the next three days, Sarah will cope with the pain, the accident and her worries about her future, while her family—oblivious father, brittle mother and immature brother—and her best friend try to help her. Haddings copes with his crushing guilt, usually making choices that make everything worse. Straining credulity, both Sarah and Haddings wonder if there might be a chance for them still, when the more important question is whether they can ever forgive. Plot events are sequenced poorly and depend far too much on coincidence for their effect; the dual narrative does not provide substantial additional insight, making it feel contrived as well. Stilted dialogue makes characters feel flat, particularly Sarah’s brother.

Forgettable. (Fiction. 14-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-310-7295-0-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blink

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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