MANIFEST

Underwhelming.

The conclusion to the intrigue-heavy duology set in an alternate America sees its protagonist fomenting revolution.

Following the events of Muse (2021), Claire and Gov. Remy Duchamp, now her husband, are stuck in temporary exile in Wardenclyffe Tower after an attempted coup to overthrow Remy. As Remy recovers from his wounds, he keeps himself apart from Claire, giving her the freedom she has always yearned for even though she’s nursing a broken heart. But survival comes first, and to secure that for herself and those she cares for, Claire needs to be a worthy adversary to the soon-to-arrive King Washington, initiating a series of events that may well lead to the end of the First American Kingdom. This entry walks back from the magic and science of the first book to concentrate on politics with a convoluted plot featuring underdeveloped plans and deus ex machina. Claire’s feminist struggles and the light shed on the subjugation of women are highlights. However, there is a tension between the goal professed in the author’s note to write “a commentary on the perils of white feminism, of what happens when those women grab what they can from the patriarchal buffet, and damn everybody else,” and this story that centers two White leads in an America in which slavery never existed and Native Americans are invisible. The romance between Remy and Claire unfortunately feels unearned and would have benefited from deeper exploration.

Underwhelming. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-06-284029-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 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

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DIVINE RIVALS

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

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A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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