From the Heart of Thorns series , Vol. 1

This winsome debut novel goes down like a vegan, gluten-free cupcake: sweet and good for you but entirely lacking in...

A high-fantasy adventure with a spiritedly feminist point of view.

Seventeen-year-old Mia Rose unsuccessfully plots an escape from her arranged royal wedding, craving the freedom to hunt down her mother’s murderer (Wynna was killed by a hateful Gwyrach, a half-god, half-human female demon who “could manipulate flesh, bone, breath, and blood”). Instead she ends up on the run with her betrothed, the now lethally injured Prince Quin. The desperate scrabble across dangerous terrain is well-written, but while Barton’s feminist perspective is refreshing, it makes for some awkward romantic exchanges. In one non-ironic scene, Mia’s love interest observes, “You’re beautiful when you lie,” and recovers with, “Not to diminish you or suggest that beauty is an indicator of your worth.” A male character’s bisexuality is handled well, however. The elaborate worldbuilding evinces a traditional patriarchal feudalism; women are feared for their potential magic, and a utopian village is inhabited only by women, children, and men determined to be safe. Most tellingly, the Gwyrach can “unblood” a man—deflate an engorged phallus—which comes in handy in a would-be rape scene. This is a diverting tale, but the sisterhood is distracting rather than uplifting, and the denouement is easily guessed. Mia and Quin are white.

This winsome debut novel goes down like a vegan, gluten-free cupcake: sweet and good for you but entirely lacking in satisfying decadence. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-244768-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018


An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019


From the Warning series , Vol. 1

A glossy repackaging of a jejune tale.

A reissue of the 2016 novel published as Consider.

Alexandra Lucas and her boyfriend, Dominick, are about to start their senior year of high school when 500 vertexes—each one a doorway-shaped “hole into the fabric of the universe”—appear across the world, accompanied by holographic messages communicating news of Earth’s impending doom. The only escape is a one-way trip through the portals to a parallel future Earth. As people leave through the vertexes and the extinction event draws nearer, the world becomes increasingly unfamiliar. A lot has changed in the past several years, including expectations of mental health depictions in young adult literature; Alex’s struggle with anxiety and reliance on Ativan, which she calls her “little white savior” while initially discounting therapy as an intervention, make for a trite after-school special–level treatment of a complex situation; a short stint of effective therapy does finally occur but is so limited in duration that it contributes to the oversimplification of the topic. Alex also has unresolved issues with her Gulf War veteran father (who possibly grapples with PTSD). The slow pace of the plot as it depicts a crumbling society, along with stilted writing and insubstantial secondary characterization, limits the appeal of such a small-scale, personal story. Characters are minimally described and largely racially ambiguous; Alex has golden skin and curly brown hair.

A glossy repackaging of a jejune tale. (Science fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: June 6, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-72826-839-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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