Readers will be left begging for the final installment.

THE BLOCK

From the Loop series , Vol. 2

This second novel in the Loop Trilogy continues the saga of teens battling a controlling, corrupt world government in a dystopian future.

In the opening scenes of this second installment, Luka is again the first-person narrator, reminding readers of key events from the series starter. It’s not long, however, before readers are questioning reality along with him. Oliver carries on with what he did best in The Loop (2020)—writing about daring escapes, taut twists and turns, characters making tough decisions, and, of course, creepy tunnels with just as much intensity as before. First up is an escape from the Block, an energy-harvesting prison even worse than the Loop that leaves batteries like Luka in periods of paralysis. Regrouping with some of his ethnically diverse rebel friends, the brown-skinned teen continues his mission to take down Happy, the government’s operating system. Rescuing lost friends, avoiding Mosquito drones (reminiscent of the Hunger Games’ tracker jackers), and confronting the archnemesis who’s still bent on killing him, Luka’s course is, once again, nonstop adventure. This time Oliver interjects light humor with an old children’s toy–turned–scrambler drone and offers another side of AI technology. While some second novels dip or stall, this volume aptly does its job, building background knowledge for the series, creating more tension, and setting up a riveting cliffhanger for the series conclusion.

Readers will be left begging for the final installment. (Dystopian. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-58933-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Thrill-seekers will be absorbed by this exciting story.

THE GIRL IN THE CASTLE

The lives of two girls named Hannah, living in different centuries on different continents, intersect.

Eighteen-year-old Hannah Dory is an English peasant living a harsh existence in 1347. Hannah Doe is a resident of Belman Psychiatric Hospital in 2023 New York City, brought in after being found on the street experiencing hallucinations and screaming something about a castle. Modern-day Hannah periodically enters a catatonic state, something the staff refer to as her “going to the castle.” Columbia psychology student Jordan Hassan is a new intern at Belman, and his interest is piqued by this girl no one knows much about. He decides to play detective and try to discover her history himself. Meanwhile, in the medieval England storyline, Hannah Dory tries to save her village from starvation by sneaking into the baron’s castle but finds herself swept up in a fight between the new baron and his rival. The book sustains a breakneck pace with short chapters and many cliffhangers that will keep readers’ interest. Patterson’s author’s note includes a list of mental health resources and describes his experience of working as an aide in a psychiatric hospital when he was a teenager. The narrative thoughtfully centers mental illness and touches on complex topics like suicide. Whiteness is the default; Jordan is cued as Muslim.

Thrill-seekers will be absorbed by this exciting story. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-41172-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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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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