As clever as the heroine’s invented boot polishers and sewing machines, as appealing as the dresses designed by her...

VENTURESS

After the “Cinderella” story ends, a heroine inventor must stop a war between humans and Faerie.

Nicolette’s tale didn’t end after she found her prince and escaped her stepmother in the “Cinderella” retelling Mechanica (2015). Earning her living as an independent inventor, Nick’s uncomfortable with the public’s belief that she’s destined to wed their prince. She loves Fin, yes, but their relationship with each other and with their best friend, Caro, isn’t something she wants to constrain by a conventional marriage. Meanwhile, anti-magic religious fanatics and war profiteers aim to lead the kingdom in a full-blown genocide of Faerie. Fin thinks he can stop the war, but they must hurry; one courtier is secretly building an automaton army. An airship journey across the ocean to Faerie ends exactly as the adventure demands, leading to angst-y revelations, steampunk gadgeteering, and cinematic battles. The romantic element is solid and nondistracting, as dark-skinned Fin, “short, fat, pretty blonde” white Caro, and Nick (whose appearance is ambiguous) remain happily in love with one another, leaving the emotional hand-wringing for political and family drama. The romantic triad, lacking any on-page erotic component, is deftly handled. Unresolved plot threads imply a sequel in the works.

As clever as the heroine’s invented boot polishers and sewing machines, as appealing as the dresses designed by her coal-powered automaton horse . (Steampunk. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-31927-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful.

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SALT TO THE SEA

January 1945: as Russians advance through East Prussia, four teens’ lives converge in hopes of escape.

Returning to the successful formula of her highly lauded debut, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys combines research (described in extensive backmatter) with well-crafted fiction to bring to life another little-known story: the sinking (from Soviet torpedoes) of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff. Told in four alternating voices—Lithuanian nurse Joana, Polish Emilia, Prussian forger Florian, and German soldier Alfred—with often contemporary cadences, this stints on neither history nor fiction. The three sympathetic refugees and their motley companions (especially an orphaned boy and an elderly shoemaker) make it clear that while the Gustloff was a German ship full of German civilians and soldiers during World War II, its sinking was still a tragedy. Only Alfred, stationed on the Gustloff, lacks sympathy; almost a caricature, he is self-delusional, unlikable, a Hitler worshiper. As a vehicle for exposition, however, and a reminder of Germany’s role in the war, he serves an invaluable purpose that almost makes up for the mustache-twirling quality of his petty villainy. The inevitability of the ending (including the loss of several characters) doesn’t change its poignancy, and the short chapters and slowly revealed back stories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning.

Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful. (author’s note, research and sources, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-16030-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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