ACROSS A FIELD OF STARLIGHT

Charming, kinetic, and colorful in more ways than one.

Two young adults forge a profound connection amid an intergalactic war.

Lu is a curious young explorer who belongs to a scientific commune that prioritizes research and knowledge while staying neutral in the conflict brewing around them. While exploring some wreckage, Lu stumbles upon Fassen, a young member of the resistance who has lost their parents in a shuttle crash. Lu helps Fassen return to the Fireback Brigade—the “biggest resistance force the Ever-Blossoming Empire’s ever seen”—but the two keep in touch, communicating secretly and becoming fast friends. As the story progresses, they both grow into their respective roles—Fassen’s bravery and desire for combat get them switched from a medical path to a soldier’s, and Lu continues to research mysteries of the universe with Field, their mobile AI unit. All is well until Fassen discovers the exalted Fireback Brigade may not be as perfect as it seems. Delliquanti’s art entrances, combining dynamic scenes with bold, surprising color schemes to create a spellbinding interstellar universe. Characters frequently upend gender norms, such as Sgt. Bda Gr Sertig, who uses she/her pronouns and sports a thick beard and unibrow. Lu is fat and has dark skin; Fassen is brown-skinned, and the rest of the cast includes a variety of genders, skin tones, and body shapes.

Charming, kinetic, and colorful in more ways than one. (concept art, author's note) (Graphic science fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-12414-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Random House Graphic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

A TEMPEST OF TEA

From the Blood and Tea series , Vol. 1

Crowd-pleasing fun laced with political fire: a winner.

Bestselling author Faizal returns to the universe of We Hunt the Flame (2019) with a stand-alone duology opener.

Orphaned Arthie, brown-skinned with mauve hair, has created a criminal empire out of sheer pluck despite being Ceylani in Ettenia, where laws favor white people. She pulled legendary pistol Calibore from a stone plinth (though the prophecy that doing so would make her the nation’s leader turned out to be a hoax). She’s also built Spindrift, a teahouse-cum-bloodhouse, where she gathers secrets from wealthy humans and vampires, amassing power and security. Now Arthie has her sights set on vengeance—and the Ram, Ettenia’s masked monarch. When she and Jin, her brother-by-choice (who’s cued East Asian), are drawn into a heist, they assemble a diverse crew of immigrants whose roles riff on genre archetypes. The lush prose pulses with feeling as revelations are dropped and the tension ratchets up, keeping the pages turning as the motley gang plans to infiltrate a vampire society, retrieve a stolen ledger, and double-cross one of the Ram’s guards (who might be planning to double-cross them). Their ultimate goal: taking down the colonizing Ettenians and the exploitative East Jeevant Company. It’s all very exciting right up to the action-packed finale, which promises more conspiracy and (hopefully) justice to come. This compelling read offers interesting commentary on our society while feeling entirely real within the context of its own worldbuilding.

Crowd-pleasing fun laced with political fire: a winner. (map) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2024

ISBN: 9780374389406

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

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