Self-serving, but enjoyable for committed fans

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SHADOWHUNTERS AND DOWNWORLDERS

From the Mortal Instruments series

A selection of essays about the Mortal Instruments series edited by the series’ author offers a couple of gems and a lot that’s not.

Amid the mostly shallow veneration, a few entries stand out. Kate Milford's "Unhomely Places" is not so much about the Mortal Instruments series as it is a love song to New York as seen through the uncanny lens of the books. Michelle Hodkin, in "Simon Lewis: Jewish, Vampire, Hero," examines both the parallels and the contradictions of Judaism and vampirism, closely reading Simon to see the heroism in his complex combination of the two. Other essays miss the mark. Kami Garcia's "Why the Best Friend Never Gets the Girl," for example, uses John Hughes movies to explain why Simon would never date Clary; are there no recent appropriate cultural touchstones? Multiple entries heap praise upon the series for its incorporation of queer relationships and mixed-race characters, though none of those essays point out that these queer and mixed-race characters are never the protagonists. Most of the entries focus on the series' romantic aspects: incestuous tensions, one-sided crushes, brotherly love. Textual analysis sits side by side with "Malec" as a portmanteau describing the Magnus/Alec relationship, "OTP" to refer to the idea of a fan's one true pairing and Facebook relationship statuses to explain character interactions.

Self-serving, but enjoyable for committed fans . (Nonfiction 15-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-937856-22-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Smart Pop/BenBella

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2012

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Only marginally intriguing.

REDEMPTION PREP

In a remote part of Utah, in a “temple of excellence,” the best of the best are recruited to nurture their talents.

Redemption Preparatory is a cross between the Vatican and a top-secret research facility: The school is rooted in Christian ideology (but very few students are Christian), Mass is compulsory, cameras capture everything, and “maintenance” workers carry Tasers. When talented poet Emma disappears, three students, distrusting of the school administration, launch their own investigation. Brilliant chemist Neesha believes Emma has run away to avoid taking the heat for the duo’s illegal drug enterprise. Her boyfriend, an athlete called Aiden, naturally wants to find her. Evan, a chess prodigy who relies on patterns and has difficulty processing social signals, believes he knows Emma better than anyone. While the school is an insidious character on its own and the big reveal is slightly psychologically disturbing, Evan’s positioning as a tragic hero with an uncertain fate—which is connected to his stalking of Emma (even before her disappearance)—is far more unsettling. The ’90s setting provides the backdrop for tongue-in-cheek technological references but doesn’t do anything for the plot. Student testimonials and voice-to-text transcripts punctuate the three-way third-person narration that alternates among Neesha, Evan, and Aiden. Emma, Aiden, and Evan are assumed to be white; Neesha is Indian. Students are from all over the world, including Asia and the Middle East.

Only marginally intriguing. (Mystery. 15-18)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266203-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Not everybody lives, and certainly not “happily ever after”—but within all the grisly darkness, Alice’s fierce integrity and...

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THE HAZEL WOOD

From the Hazel Wood series , Vol. 1

A ferocious young woman is drawn into her grandmother’s sinister fairy-tale realm in this pitch-black fantasy debut.

Once upon a time, Althea Proserpine achieved a cult celebrity with Tales from the Hinterland, a slim volume of dark, feminist fairy tales, but Alice has never met her reclusive grandmother nor visited her eponymous estate. Instead, she has spent her entire 17 years on the run from persistent bad luck, relying only on her mother, Ella. Now Althea is dead and Ella has been kidnapped, and the Hinterland seems determined to claim Alice as well. The Hinterland—and the Stories that animate it—appear as simultaneously wondrous and horrific, dreamlike and bloody, lyrical and creepy, exquisitely haunting and casually, brutally cruel. White, petite, and princess-pretty Alice is a difficult heroine to like in her stormy (and frequently profane) narration, larded with pop-culture and children’s-literature references and sprinkled with wry humor; her deceptive fragility conceals a scary toughness, icy hostility, and simmering rage. Despite her tentative friendship (and maybe more) with Ellery Finch, a wealthy biracial, brown-skinned geek for all things Althea Proserpine, any hints of romance are negligible compared to the powerful relationships among women: mothers and daughters, sisters and strangers, spinner and stories; ties of support and exploitation and love and liberation.

Not everybody lives, and certainly not “happily ever after”—but within all the grisly darkness, Alice’s fierce integrity and hard-won self-knowledge shine unquenched. (Fantasy. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-14790-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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