Pack’s teen curators grow a bit wiser, and more lovable, in this latest volume.

Third Chronicles of Illumination


In the latest volume of Pack’s (Becoming Johanna, 2016, etc.) YA fantasy series, curators Johanna and Jackson try to stave off a Terrorian invasion of the interdimensional library system.

Books within the Library of Illumination come to life—literally. Eighteen-year-old Johanna Charette and her boyfriend, 17-year-old Jackson Roth, are co-curators of the library, which they recently learned is part of an interdimensional system of libraries connected through portals. One of the connected realms, Terroria, is home to the power-hungry Nero 51, who wants to storm the other realms—Romantica, Juvenilia, and Fantasia (Earth) among them—to destroy all the books and steal their knowledge. Thankfully, the overseers, who manage the libraries, have sealed the portals and trapped Nero 51 between realms. Unfortunately, the Terrorian is in contact with a shape-shifting Mysterian named Odyon, who covets the Book of Myrrdin (Merlin). If this weren’t trouble enough, Johanna and Jackson are continually working together in the library. Their relationship has grown fraught, and though Jackson wants to plan for their future together in college, his penchant for sarcasm eventually leads to a cooling-off period with Johanna. Meanwhile, the various realms prepare for a Terrorian attack. In this third volume of the series, Pack shows readers the various realms, all different from one another. Those on Juvenilia “live to age fifteen and are then reincarnated as three-year-olds,” while those on Adventura are hu*bots, beings who combine biological and technological components. We also learn about the Library of Origination on Lumina, where an oracular gemstone helps the overseers, as Master Ryden Simmdry puts it, “align…thoughts and remove distractions” so that the “way to resolve a particular problem soon becomes clear.” As Pack creatively animates the various realms, the relationship between her two protagonists maintains the novel’s bittersweet tone. Johanna and Jackson are beautifully believable, especially as they drift apart. Everything combusts in a cliffhanger finale.

Pack’s teen curators grow a bit wiser, and more lovable, in this latest volume.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Artiqua Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2016

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Aspiring filmmaker/first-novelist Chbosky adds an upbeat ending to a tale of teenaged angst—the right combination of realism and uplift to allow it on high school reading lists, though some might object to the sexuality, drinking, and dope-smoking. More sophisticated readers might object to the rip-off of Salinger, though Chbosky pays homage by having his protagonist read Catcher in the Rye. Like Holden, Charlie oozes sincerity, rails against celebrity phoniness, and feels an extraliterary bond with his favorite writers (Harper Lee, Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Ayn Rand, etc.). But Charlie’s no rich kid: the third child in a middle-class family, he attends public school in western Pennsylvania, has an older brother who plays football at Penn State, and an older sister who worries about boys a lot. An epistolary novel addressed to an anonymous “friend,” Charlie’s letters cover his first year in high school, a time haunted by the recent suicide of his best friend. Always quick to shed tears, Charlie also feels guilty about the death of his Aunt Helen, a troubled woman who lived with Charlie’s family at the time of her fatal car wreck. Though he begins as a friendless observer, Charlie is soon pals with seniors Patrick and Sam (for Samantha), stepsiblings who include Charlie in their circle, where he smokes pot for the first time, drops acid, and falls madly in love with the inaccessible Sam. His first relationship ends miserably because Charlie remains compulsively honest, though he proves a loyal friend (to Patrick when he’s gay-bashed) and brother (when his sister needs an abortion). Depressed when all his friends prepare for college, Charlie has a catatonic breakdown, which resolves itself neatly and reveals a long-repressed truth about Aunt Helen. A plain-written narrative suggesting that passivity, and thinking too much, lead to confusion and anxiety. Perhaps the folks at (co-publisher) MTV see the synergy here with Daria or any number of videos by the sensitive singer-songwriters they feature.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02734-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: MTV Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing.


For the second time in her life, Leo must choose between her family and true love.

Nineteen-year-old Princess Leonie Kolburg’s royal family is bankrupt. In order to salvage the fortune they accrued before humans fled the frozen Earth 170 years ago, Leonie’s father is forcing her to participate in the Valg Season, an elaborate set of matchmaking events held to facilitate the marriages of rich and royal teens. Leo grudgingly joins in even though she has other ideas: She’s invented a water filtration system that, if patented, could provide a steady income—that is if Leo’s calculating Aunt Freja, the Captain of the ship hosting the festivities, stops blocking her at every turn. Just as Leo is about to give up hope, her long-lost love, Elliot, suddenly appears onboard three years after Leo’s family forced her to break off their engagement. Donne (Brightly Burning, 2018) returns to space, this time examining the fascinatingly twisted world of the rich and famous. Leo and her peers are nuanced, deeply felt, and diverse in terms of sexuality but not race, which may be a function of the realities of wealth and power. The plot is fast paced although somewhat uneven: Most of the action resolves in the last quarter of the book, which makes the resolutions to drawn-out conflicts feel rushed.

A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing. (Science fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-94894-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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