RAMPANT

Killer unicorns. They’re supposed to be extinct, the last one killed by Astrid Llewelyn’s great-great-great-great-great-aunt Clothilde, but when one gores her boyfriend in their Seattle suburb, the 16-year-old is sent by her unicorn-obsessed mother to a cloister in Rome. Along with a gaggle of other girls, all virgins, descendants of Alexander the Great and immune to unicorn venom, Astrid trains to be a unicorn hunter and learns more about the mythology—or truth?—of these man-eating creatures, the antithesis of pink and sparkly. Funding the venture and looking for a modern-day antivenin is Marten Jaeger of Gordian Pharmaceuticals. Although it raises ethical and feminist issues, this story line, as well as others, never fully develops. Astrid’s first-person narration reveals her initial skepticism and budding heroism, but leaves most of the other characters flat and stereotyped. The author’s slow-paced YA debut raises many unanswered questions (e.g., how can a 2,300-year-old unicorn the size of an elephant hide in Rome?), but if readers can suspend belief, they will find a fresh folklore twist amid the wave of vampires and zombies. (Fantasy. YA)

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-06-149000-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2009

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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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