Endurance will pay off for those interested in Lily’s fate, but they need to be mighty interested.

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REUNITED

From the Reawakened series , Vol. 3

Lily and her three Egyptian lovers traipse hither and yon through the cosmos to save humankind.

It began in a New York museum when white, teenage Lily met and fell in love with the Reawakened (2015) sun god, Amon. Then Lily became a sphinx and traveled to the underworld to do battle with the evil sorceress, the Devourer, in Recreated (2016). Now, in the concluding episode, Lily possesses two other spirits: a lioness and an Irish fairy. Lily and her internal residents traverse the universe on unicorns along with their respective love interests, the gods Amon, Ahmose, and Asten. They have countless battles with gazillions of monsters like “sky demons,” a cross between gargoyles and wolves, and the Devourer (again!) in order to stop Seth, the Dark One, from his evil doings. Meanwhile, despite her wishes, Lily is morphing into yet another kind of ultimate goddess called Wasret. The first-person narrative alternates through each female’s perspective. It’s vastly imaginative, but this tale is so overwrought with multitendrils of plot tangles that by story’s end it’s difficult to tease them apart. It’s further bogged down with unnecessarily long descriptions of landscapes, references to Lily’s hair, and cringeworthy ardency: “He was devastatingly handsome in the way that the most wickedly desirable boys are.”

Endurance will pay off for those interested in Lily’s fate, but they need to be mighty interested. (Paranormal romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-55568-8

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Fear the reaper(s)…but relish this intelligent and entertaining blend of dark humor and high death tolls.

THUNDERHEAD

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 2

Death proves impermanent in this sequel to Scythe (2016).

In a world run by the (almost) all-powerful and (almost) omniscient artificial intelligence Thunderhead, only the Honorable Scythes deal permanent death to near-immortal humans. Yet a growing contingent of scythes, feared and flattered by society and operating outside the Thunderhead’s control, are proving rather dishonorable. No longer apprentices, 18-year-olds Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch realize “the scythedom is…high school with murder” as they watch their fellow scythes jockey for power and prestige. Citra now gleans as Scythe Anastasia, questioning the status quo but also opposing the homicidally enthusiastic “new-order” scythes and their dangerous demagogue. Self-appointed as Scythe Lucifer, Rowan hunts other scythes whom he deems corrupt. Meanwhile, the existentially troubled Thunderhead questions its role as both creation and caretaker of humanity, sworn not to take life but fearing that its utopia will otherwise collapse into dystopia. Nationality and race are minimally mentioned—ethnic biases and genocide are considered very gauche—yet a population that defies death, aging, sickness, poverty, and war risks becoming bleakly homogenous, alleviated only by “unsavories” and scythes. This sequel digs deeper into Shusterman’s complex world and complicated characters, offering political maneuvering, fatal conspiracies, and impending catastrophe via a slowly unfurling plot and startling bursts of action.

Fear the reaper(s)…but relish this intelligent and entertaining blend of dark humor and high death tolls. (Science fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7245-7

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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