Distinctive characters and magic-infused action should leave readers craving the next volume.

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THE LEGENDS OF EVE

From the A Warrior's Past series , Vol. 1

Teens with elemental powers become the first students in three millennia to attend a school, which shadowy forces have targeted, in this launch of a YA fantasy series.

In the world of Gaia, the three Elemential Schools are Fujita (Wind and Wisdom), Sereni (Water), and GroundStone (Earth and Rock). Each sends its top four students to attend Harahm’be in the Valley of Gaia, the first time in over 3,000 years the former School of Fire has accepted students. S’rae is an outcast at Fujita because, unlike richer schoolmates, she wasn’t born in the Wind region. But she’s excited that her adoptive brother, Vayp, is at Harahm’be, as the two haven’t seen each other in years. Vayp is a troublemaker at GroundStone; he and S’rae don’t make friends easily but soon display impressive abilities at the school’s arena. Meanwhile, Harahm’be Headmaster, Gabrael, the God of Fire and King of Gods, reads to the students from the enigmatic Book of Eve. It largely centers on Destrou, “the boy who never lived,” and S’rae sees parallels between her life and Destrou’s. Meanwhile, a traitor reveals the school’s secret location to a villain controlling giant lethal robots (Mechas) and plotting an attack on Harahm’be. The anonymous author introduces a magical world while skillfully incorporating recognizable adolescent turmoil. S’rae’s bully from Fujita, for example, joins her at Harahm’be, and initially unlikable Vayp bullies delightfully kooky Han’sael. Dialogue, even within the Book of Eve, befits the teen characters, who see things as “awesome” or “sooo amazing.” Han’sael’s speech is particularly bizarre but often amusing: “I’m sorriorry....” The novel’s action scenes showcase different students’ various powers as well as the formidable Mechas—and even deadlier PriMechas. While this book is clearly setting up future series installments, there’s a resolution (e.g., the traitor’s identity) and twisty conclusion. Rykyart’s illustrations are awash in color as characters are silhouetted against resplendent backdrops of blues, greens, etc.

Distinctive characters and magic-infused action should leave readers craving the next volume.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73278-841-1

Page Count: 481

Publisher: DreamWords Publishing, LLC

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2019

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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