Ties up a dystopian adventure but disappointingly lacks depth.

UNDERLAND

The fates of a community of people forced to labor underground and of the city that enslaved them are inexorably intertwined in this sequel to Pulse Point (2018).

Alternating narration from Sari, a City dweller introduced in the first installment who becomes suspicious of her corrupt leaders, and Ama, a 12-year-old who toils alongside a group of other Unders, reveals horrifying secrets. The Unders mine for salt brine used to produce energy for the City, and the tunnels they dig have at long last destabilized the domed City’s infrastructure, imperiling all. This rapidly paced story focuses on building the atmospherically bleak, ritualistic world of the Unders, where children are brought to work at young ages by Krux, a cruel overseer, and girls disappear to become mothers as soon they start menstruating. Building directly on the events of Pulse Point, this sequel often feels rushed and its conclusion perfunctory, with writing that veers toward platitudes rather than allowing for its characters’ stories to unfold naturally. While many of the ideas presented are worthwhile, especially the ways in which good leaders are not born but self-made, finding their ways through self-doubt and struggle, this tale doesn’t explore them fully. All of the characters assume a White default; Ama is in love with her friend Romi, who is also female.

Ties up a dystopian adventure but disappointingly lacks depth. (Science fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77337-052-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Yellow Dog

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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In the end, it’s just another violent dystopian series opener for all its yellow-brick veneer, but it’s a whole lot more fun...

DOROTHY MUST DIE

When a cyclone deposits a 21st-century Kansas teen in Oz, she and readers discover there’ve been some changes made.

Dirt-poor “Salvation Amy” Gumm lives in a trailer park, effectively parenting her alcoholic mom (her dad ran off years ago), who seems to care more about her pet rat, Star, than her daughter. That doesn’t mean Amy is eager to be in Oz, particularly this Oz. Tyrannized by a megalomaniacal Dorothy and mined of its magic, it’s a dystopian distortion of the paradise Baum and MGM depicted. In short order, Amy breaks the wholly capricious laws and is thrown into a cell in the Emerald City with only Star for company. There, she’s visited first by the mysterious but sympathetic Pete and then by the witch Mombi, who breaks her out and takes her to the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked (among whom is the very hot Nox). Amy may well be the salvation of Oz—only someone from the Other Place can take Dorothy down. Paige has clearly had the time of her life with this reboot, taking a dystopian-romance template and laying it over Oz. Readers of Baum’s books will take special delight in seeing new twists on the old characters, and they will greet the surprise climactic turnabout with the smugness of insiders.

In the end, it’s just another violent dystopian series opener for all its yellow-brick veneer, but it’s a whole lot more fun than many of its ilk. (Dystopian fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-228067-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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