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From the Stormheart series , Vol. 2

Adequate escapism.

The runaway princess-bride of Roar (2017) returns to protect her city from threats both political and magical.

With her newfound magical abilities, Princess Aurora and her team of storm hunters return to her city of Pavan, where they discover how bleak the situation has become. The Locke family has seized control over the city by keeping Aurora’s mother, Queen Aphra, drugged, and their governance style is ruthless and cruel while refugees from the villainous Stormlord’s path of destruction pile up outside the city looking for salvation. Being back home means complications for Aurora’s relationships, especially with love interest Kiran, as she’s pulled between the liberties she had as Roar and her obligations as Aurora—and the secret threatens their romance. In the city, she lucks into contact with the revolutionary group resisting the Lockes. Despite the young adult heroine–as-rebel storyline’s lack of freshness, the emphasis on Aurora’s own agenda and on the characters’ ties to each other bolsters the plot. Breaks from Aurora’s and Kiran’s viewpoints—focusing on Novaya, Cassius, and Cruze (through flashbacks from 17 years prior)—give enough space that the central romance doesn’t smother and even allow for hints of other characters’ romances to come. Though the less-a-conclusion-than-a-pause ending is typical of middle books, the last act has surprises and action. Aurora is white, but many other characters are described as having varying shades of brown skin, including Kiran and Cassius.

Adequate escapism. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7653-8636-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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