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THE LAST STAR CHASER

From the West 44 YA Verse series

A thrilling science-fiction narrative with appeal for reluctant readers.

A family vacation in outer space on a luxury spaceship goes horribly wrong.

Zenna is on a two-week family vacation on the Star Chaser, but she’s stuck babysitting her annoying, space-obsessed 8-year-old brother, Kain, and she’s not into any of it. When a devastating solar flare collides with the ship, everyone is instructed to head for the escape pods, but Zenna’s parents aren’t with them—they’re at the onboard spa. Panicked but seizing control and taking responsibility, Zenna ushers Kain into a pod. They have a jerky landing on the planet Skoll, and as they head into the alien terrain, the siblings watch more pods streak “across the cotton candy sky.” Soon after, the Star Chaser crashes. They follow the smoke, hoping to find their parents, along the way befriending a giant blue, orange-eyed wolf, whom they name Spike. They also encounter a group of menacing prison-bound teens, whose leader, Jet, threatens Zenna and Kain. But Spike protects the siblings, scaring the juvenile delinquents away. Later, as Zenna, Kain, and Spike take refuge for the night, Arron, one of the prisoners, shows up. He’ll help them find the Star Chaser, but can they trust him? This accessible story captures the fast-paced momentum of a survival story with a vulnerable realism, with Zenna confronting challenge after challenge. Most characters read white.

A thrilling science-fiction narrative with appeal for reluctant readers. (Verse science fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: April 16, 2024

ISBN: 9781978597112

Page Count: 200

Publisher: West 44 Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2024

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POWERLESS

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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DIVINE RIVALS

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

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A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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