Self-serving, but enjoyable for committed fans

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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Readable but not remarkable, yet another grimdark political fantasy.

THE PRISON HEALER

From the Prison Healer series , Vol. 1

Prison life gets even more punishing in this fantasy series opener.

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan is 10 years into a life sentence at “death prison” Zalindov. She’s succeeded her late father as the titular prison healer, dosing patients with herbs and possessing extensive, modern medical knowledge of bacteria, viruses, and immune systems. Aside from cheerful innocent/MacGuffin Tipp, Kiva befriends few fellow prisoners and even fewer guards, most of whom are harshly abusive. While Naari, a new female guard, and Jaren, a handsome new prisoner, chip away at her frozen facade, Kiva volunteers to undertake an epic Trial by Ordeal on behalf of the Rebel Queen, the newest political prisoner. Under pressure to save her friends, the Rebel Queen, and herself—and losing hope of rescue or release—Kiva faces four elemental magic Trials sans innate talent. In between grueling, gruesome spectacles, Kiva also acts as an epidemiologist, tracking down an illness plaguing the prisoners. The claustrophobic setting—evoking the horrors of a Siberian gulag or Nazi concentration camp—exudes dread and brutality; levity and lightness are minimal. A predictable romance ensues, and generic fantasy clichés abound—royals and rebels, lost heirs, vague magic—hastily concluded with a trite plot twist and setup for a sequel. Most main characters read as White; there is a diversity of skin tones in this fantasy world.

Readable but not remarkable, yet another grimdark political fantasy. (map) (Fantasy. 15-adult)

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-43455-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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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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