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

Third Chronicles of Illumination

LIBRARY OF ILLUMINATIONBOOK EIGHT

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

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Artiqua Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2016

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A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing.

THE STARS WE STEAL

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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A celebratory song of the sea.

THE HIGHEST TIDE

A shrimpy 13-year-old with a super-sized passion for marine life comes of age during a summer of discovery on the tidal flats of Puget Sound.

Miles O’Malley—Squid Boy to his friends—doesn’t mind being short. It’s other things that keep him awake at night, like his parents’ talk of divorce and his increasingly lustful thoughts about the girl next door. Mostly, though, it’s the ocean’s siren call that steals his sleep. During one of his moonlit kayak excursions, Miles comes across the rarest sighting ever documented in the northern Pacific: the last gasp of a Giant Squid. Scientists are stunned. The media descend. As Miles continues to stumble across other oddball findings, including two invasive species that threaten the eco-balance of Puget Sound, a nearby new-age cult’s interest in Miles prompts a headline in USA Today: Kid Messiah? Soon tourists are flocking to the tidal flats, crushing crustaceans underfoot and painting their bodies with black mud. Dodging disingenuous journalists, deluded disciples and the death-throes of his parents’ marriage, Miles tries to recapture some semblance of normality. He reads up on the G-spot and the Kama Sutra to keep pace with his pals’ bull sessions about sex (hilariously contributing “advanced” details that gross the other boys out). But Miles’s aquatic observations cannot be undone, and as summer draws to a close, inhabitants of Puget Sound prepare for a national blitzkrieg of media and scientific attention and the highest tide in 40 years, all of which threatens everything Miles holds dear. On land, the rickety plot could have used some shoring up. Miles is just too resourceful for the reader to believe his happiness—or that of those he loves—is ever at stake. But when Miles is on the water, Lynch’s first novel becomes a stunning light show, both literal, during phosphorescent plankton blooms, and metaphorical, in the poetic fireworks Lynch’s prose sets off as he describes his clearly beloved Puget Sound.

A celebratory song of the sea.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2005

ISBN: 1-58234-605-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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