The inventiveness of the many worlds Marguerite traverses should keep fans happy.

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TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU

From the Firebird series , Vol. 2

The parallel-universe sci-fi/romance story begun with A Thousand Pieces of You (2014) continues.

Marguerite travels with her friend Theo through the multiverse to new worlds (here persistently called “dimensions”) with her parents’ marvelous Firebird device, trying to save Paul, the love of her life. Villain Wyatt Conley, tech whiz and corporate mogul, has splintered Paul’s soul into four parts. If Marguerite sabotages the Firebird technology in other universes, thus allowing Conley to control it all, he will give her the coordinates necessary to find all the parts of Paul’s soul. On her travels she learns some disturbing things about Paul even as she tries to outwit Conley. On one world, however, she learns that a new technology threatens all worlds, including her own. The author creates some intriguing worlds: there’s one in which a world war dominates everything and another which, if readers spot a small hint, they might recognize as our own, adding a nice twist to the story. The suspense ratchets up as Marguerite begins to question Paul’s character when she meets different versions of him on different worlds, knowing that all are essentially the same person and positioning Marguerite for some unexpected moral choices. Although overlong, the book holds readers’ interest with drastic changes of scene as Marguerite jumps from world to world. Characters remain fairly shallow but accessible.

The inventiveness of the many worlds Marguerite traverses should keep fans happy. (Science fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-227899-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Don’t look over sea or under stone, this is the fantasy novel for all once and future fans of suspense-filled storytelling.

LEGENDBORN

From the Legendborn series , Vol. 1

Sixteen-year-old Black whiz kid Bree Matthews battles grief and demonic forces on her college campus.

After her mother dies in an accident, Bree begins a residential program for enterprising teens at her mother’s alma mater and, soon after her arrival, witnesses a magical attack that triggers hidden memories about the evening her mother was killed. Haunted by the fact that their final conversation was an argument, Bree begins a redemptive quest to uncover the connection between her mother’s death and the university’s secret society, the Order of the Round Table, joining their ranks as an initiate and unwittingly stumbling into a centuries-old supernatural war. While competing in the tournament that determines entry to the society, Bree discovers the truth about her heretofore unknown magical abilities, unwinding a complex history that showcases the horrors chattel slavery in the American South perpetuates on the descendants of all involved. Push through clunky expositions and choppy transitions that interrupt the cohesion of the text to discover solid character development that brings forward contemporary, thoughtful engagement with the representation, or lack thereof, of race in canonical Arthurian lore and mythologies. Representation of actualized, strong queer characters is organic, not forced, and so are textual conversations around emotional wellness and intergenerational trauma. Well-crafted allusions to established legends and other literary works are delightful easter eggs.

Don’t look over sea or under stone, this is the fantasy novel for all once and future fans of suspense-filled storytelling. (author's note) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4160-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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