An action-packed, wild ride with unexpected twists and turns and characters readers care about—call it a dystopia with heart

VELOCITY

Centuries after the Omniwar left much of the planet uninhabitable, Maximum Racing, the pre-eminent extreme sport, delivers vicarious thrills on reality TV; winning a race with a homebuilt car earns two teens in a remote, hardscrabble town a chance to race against professionals and star in the world’s deadliest competition.

Cassica and Shiara move to Anchor City, where a space elevator rises to Olympus. There, Celestials (rich and famous celebrities) live in luxury, their lives broadcast and obsessively followed below. Racers in teams of two (a driver and tech) hurtle across terrain scarred by ancient, orbital weapons and occupied by mutated creatures and damaged humans. Deadly nanobot particles hide in dust. Designated Wreckers follow the racers, their role to hunt and take out competitors. Though underfunded and unsponsored, Cassica and Shiara (both depicted as light-skinned on the cover) make a strong team. Cassica, a charismatic, fiercely competitive risk-taker, drives. Thoughtful Shiara, with mechanical skills and engineering know-how, is tech. They set their sights on competing in the Widowmaker, a three-day race, fatal for many but whose winners become Celestials. Exposure to new Omniwar horrors and the discovery that all is not as it seems in the glitzy city test their friendship to the breaking point. Though Wooding does not stint on the action, empathetic characterization and an emotional throughline help Cassica and Shiara bring their world to life for readers.

An action-packed, wild ride with unexpected twists and turns and characters readers care about—call it a dystopia with heart . (Science fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-94494-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A dazzling debut.

BEASTS OF PREY

Opposites come together hoping to capture a menacing creature, only to find a greater purpose.

Ekon Okojo, studious and cautious, aspires to continue his family’s legacy as a Son of the Six, one of the city of Lkossa’s class of anointed warriors. Passionate and impulsive Koffi, who dreams of being free, is an indentured beastkeeper of the Night Zoo—a collection of exotic species owned by the greedy Baaz Mtombé. In the span of a single night, their paths cross and their destinies are forever altered: Ekon is cast out of the warrior class, and Koffi faces a lifetime of servitude. The pair form a tenuous partnership and venture into the Greater Jungle to hunt the Shetani, a powerful, vicious monster, hoping this will solve both their problems. As they are both headstrong and mistrustful, they get off to a rough start, but they become closer with each brush with death. Their quest for vengeance on the Shetani, which is wreaking havoc on Lkossa, turns into something more when they make an unanticipated discovery. Saving their village—and humanity—comes down to Ekon’s warrior instinct and Koffi’s ability to control the magic her people call the splendor. This pan-African story, rife with betrayal and narrated through poetic language that evokes vivid imagery, will ensnare readers, keeping them engaged with its energetic pace. The beautiful blend of mythology, romance, and action ends with a hint at more to come. All characters are Black.

A dazzling debut. (maps, author’s note) (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-40568-0

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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