An uneven mystery with intriguing explorations into the myriad effects of trauma.

THE GIRL IN THE WHITE VAN

A kung fu student combats a kidnapper.

Savannah Taylor has gotten used to relocating every time her mom falls for a different man. Now in Portland, Oregon, she struggles to live with Tim, her mom’s controlling boyfriend, while pursuing her newfound passion: In kung fu class she uncovers newfound strength, finding a sanctuary from her chaotic home life. Though she’s resolved not to make friends, she’s drawn to Daniel Diaz, a green belt who shares her interest in Bruce Lee. Meanwhile, rumors swirl at school about a driver who is following girls in battered, unmarked cars. Even worse, a girl one town over vanished last year. Leaving kung fu one night, Savannah is attacked, waking up in the back of an old white van with her wrists duct taped. Her kidnapper is a man who goes by Sir. With the help of an unexpected ally and Bruce Lee’s words of wisdom, Savannah must summon the strength to outwit Sir if she wants to make it out alive. The narrative, told through multiple first-person perspectives, offers insight into trauma’s ripple effects. While this is interesting, and the pacing is strong, insufficient time is spent on character development, detracting from the immediacy of Savannah’s situation. The ease with which the mystery is solved further dampens the tension. Daniel is cued as Latinx; other major characters are presumed white.

An uneven mystery with intriguing explorations into the myriad effects of trauma. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-15759-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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In the end, it’s just another violent dystopian series opener for all its yellow-brick veneer, but it’s a whole lot more fun...

DOROTHY MUST DIE

When a cyclone deposits a 21st-century Kansas teen in Oz, she and readers discover there’ve been some changes made.

Dirt-poor “Salvation Amy” Gumm lives in a trailer park, effectively parenting her alcoholic mom (her dad ran off years ago), who seems to care more about her pet rat, Star, than her daughter. That doesn’t mean Amy is eager to be in Oz, particularly this Oz. Tyrannized by a megalomaniacal Dorothy and mined of its magic, it’s a dystopian distortion of the paradise Baum and MGM depicted. In short order, Amy breaks the wholly capricious laws and is thrown into a cell in the Emerald City with only Star for company. There, she’s visited first by the mysterious but sympathetic Pete and then by the witch Mombi, who breaks her out and takes her to the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked (among whom is the very hot Nox). Amy may well be the salvation of Oz—only someone from the Other Place can take Dorothy down. Paige has clearly had the time of her life with this reboot, taking a dystopian-romance template and laying it over Oz. Readers of Baum’s books will take special delight in seeing new twists on the old characters, and they will greet the surprise climactic turnabout with the smugness of insiders.

In the end, it’s just another violent dystopian series opener for all its yellow-brick veneer, but it’s a whole lot more fun than many of its ilk. (Dystopian fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-228067-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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