A compelling narrative based around the subversion of generic fantasy and science fiction fodder.

THE ART OF SAVING THE WORLD

Hazel Stanczak is tasked with saving the world, but she’s not alone.

Hazel has always been stuck in place, unable to leave home due to a strange link to an interdimensional rift. Then, on her 16th birthday, the rift spits out copies of her. The Powers That Be have chosen her to save the world from an unknown threat. Accompanied by her doppelgängers and the almost-clichéd sarcastic dragon Neven, Hazel struggles with a deck that’s been stacked against her. All the while she is faced with the question of her own identity and worth in the face of so many duplicate versions of herself. Queer issues, mental health, and race are all discussed through Hazel’s lens of an anxious, questioning, White teen. Multiple characters of color show up, both in important roles, such as Hazel’s biracial half sister, Carolyn, and Chinese adoptive father, and as background characters, like some of Hazel’s classmates. The representation of mental health issues is at times so painfully accurate that the novel becomes difficult to read but at the same time, impossible to put down. Refreshingly, Duyvis finds time to discuss painful periods and what an endometriosis diagnosis means for a teenager. A midnovel twist takes the standard chosen-one plot formula and tips it on its head, then wrings what’s left for all the angst and existential crises it’s worth.

A compelling narrative based around the subversion of generic fantasy and science fiction fodder. (Science fiction. 15-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3687-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Perhaps a more genuinely enlightened protagonist would have made this debut more engaging

STALKING JACK THE RIPPER

Audrey Rose Wadsworth, 17, would rather perform autopsies in her uncle’s dark laboratory than find a suitable husband, as is the socially acceptable rite of passage for a young, white British lady in the late 1800s.

The story immediately brings Audrey into a fractious pairing with her uncle’s young assistant, Thomas Cresswell. The two engage in predictable rounds of “I’m smarter than you are” banter, while Audrey’s older brother, Nathaniel, taunts her for being a girl out of her place. Horrific murders of prostitutes whose identities point to associations with the Wadsworth estate prompt Audrey to start her own investigation, with Thomas as her sidekick. Audrey’s narration is both ponderous and polemical, as she sees her pursuit of her goals and this investigation as part of a crusade for women. She declares that the slain aren’t merely prostitutes but “daughters and wives and mothers,” but she’s also made it a point to deny any alignment with the profiled victims: “I am not going as a prostitute. I am simply blending in.” Audrey also expresses a narrow view of her desired gender role, asserting that “I was determined to be both pretty and fierce,” as if to say that physical beauty and liking “girly” things are integral to feminism. The graphic descriptions of mutilated women don’t do much to speed the pace.

Perhaps a more genuinely enlightened protagonist would have made this debut more engaging . (Historical thriller. 15-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-27349-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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High stakes, epic scope, intense action, and sweeping mythologies.

FURYBORN

From the Empirium Trilogy series , Vol. 1

Two girls separated by a thousand years are connected by a prophecy.

In a prologue, readers learn that pale-skinned Queen Rielle has killed her husband, the biracial Audric. She gives birth to their baby while a war between angels and humans rages. To keep the infant safe from the angels’ leader, light-skinned Corien, Rielle desperately charges a child with magical abilities to use his gifts to flee with and protect her—with mixed success. Later chapters alternate between telling Rielle’s story and flashing forward 1,020 years to focus on olive-skinned Eliana. Following a childhood tragedy, Rielle hid her staggering ability to control all seven elements until a threat against her beloved Audric caused her to reveal her gifts, prompting the Magisterial Council to impose seven trials to determine whether she was the Sun Queen or Blood Queen spoken of in prophecy. While readers start off knowing her story’s end, a steamy romance and devious twists along the way pack surprises. Eliana, meanwhile, is a deadly bounty hunter—serving an evil empire in order to protect her own family—who gets mixed up with rebels when her mother is abducted. The rigid, cliffhanger-heavy chapter structure is supported by breakneck pacing and constant action. The ending leaves neither storyline resolved.

High stakes, epic scope, intense action, and sweeping mythologies. (element guide) (Fantasy. 15-adult)

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5662-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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