A thoroughly enjoyable, emotionally rich, action-packed story with the most exciting new superheroes in decades. Unmissable.

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DREADNOUGHT

From the Nemesis series , Vol. 1

Danny's having a moment to herself when superfamous superhero Dreadnought drops out of the sky and dies in her arms—but not before passing her his powers.

The powers transform her body, so her girlhood—once a total secret—is now visually impossible to hide. Guilt and elation jostle for prime position in her head as she deals with getting her dream body and massive power she can't yet control. She's taken to meet Dreadnought's colleagues (some welcoming, some not) in the Legion Pacifica and gets some answers to burning questions. But when the supervillain that killed her predecessor shows her intentions to bring destruction on humanity, Danny has to make decisions she thought she'd have more time to work out. Daniels has captured the alternating bursts of confidence and vulnerability often present in 15-year-olds with mentally abusive fathers and unsupportive mothers; she threads it through a superhero story with a beautifully paced plot that has no problematic snags to interrupt the flow. There are men both disappointing and noble, but the women and girls—white trans girl Danny, Latina crime fighter Calamity, technician/scientist Doc Impossible (racially cued only with a long black braid), and cyborg supervillain Utopia—drive the story and the action. Mutual respect among the characters, crucially combined with Daniels' respect for them, ensures that none serve as mere props for our protagonist, and readers will hope they each get their own book in the coming series.

A thoroughly enjoyable, emotionally rich, action-packed story with the most exciting new superheroes in decades. Unmissable. (Science fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68230-068-8

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Diversion Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in...

DEAR MARTIN

In this roller-coaster ride of a debut, the author summons the popular legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. to respond to the recent tragic violence befalling unarmed black men and boys.

Seventeen-year-old black high school senior Justyce McAllister, a full-scholarship student at the virtually all-white Braselton Prep, is the focus. After a bloody run-in with the police when they take his good deed for malice, Justyce seeks meaning in a series of letters with his “homie” Dr. King. He writes, “I thought if I made sure to be an upstanding member of society, I’d be exempt from the stuff THOSE black guys deal with, you know?” While he’s ranked fourth in his graduating class and well-positioned for the Ivy League, Justyce is coming to terms with the fact that there’s not as much that separates him from “THOSE black guys” as he’d like to believe. Despite this, Stone seems to position Justyce and his best friend as the decidedly well-mannered black children who are deserving of readers’ sympathies. They are not those gangsters that can be found in Justyce’s neighborhood. There’s nuance to be found for sure, but not enough to upset the dominant narrative. What if they weren’t the successful kids? While the novel intentionally leaves more questions than it attempts to answer, there are layers that still remain between the lines.

Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in the face. Take interest and ask questions. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93949-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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