A vivid and sure-footed, if predictable, piece of social commentary.

GOLDEN DREG BOY

THE SLUMS

From the Golden Dreg Boy series , Vol. 1

A privileged teen loses his place in society and must live with the despised have-nots in this first installment of a YA dystopian series.

In the near future, America has been decimated by disease. Those cities that remain exhibit the stark duality of high-tech opulence and poverty-strewn abandonment. Seventeen-year-old Kade Shaw is a Golden, one of the rich elite living in mansions in the hills of what used to be San Francisco. Kade takes his privilege for granted. Yes, he sometimes hands out (currency) points to the impoverished Dregs, but he never questions their lot in life or the unbreachable divide between the classes. And yet Kade is different. Even though Goldens are highly susceptible to illnesses, he has never been sick. Supposedly Kade’s immunity stems from his father’s research. But could there be a more insidious explanation? When Kade is arrested one night, he expects his parents to sort it out. There must have been a misunderstanding. But Kade, accused of being a Dreg imposter, is sentenced to summary execution. While his parents cannot help him, he is rescued by a group of Dregs led by a young woman Kade finds impossibly alluring. How will Kade survive living without privilege? How much of the truth has been hidden from him? Dailey writes in the first-person, present tense and paints a detailed, grim picture of post-apocalyptic society. The prose is accomplished. The dialogue, though peppered with neologisms (“shucky,” “doink”), is naturalistic enough not to jar readers. The supporting characters are well rendered. The story moves along at a good pace, and while the underlying tale isn’t new—John Christopher’s Wild Jack (1974) springs particularly to mind—it is one well worth telling to a new generation of readers. Ultimately, the book’s effectiveness will rest on readers’ appreciation of Kade, a protagonist at once exasperating (his propensity for saying the wrong thing), endearing (his love for his sister, Emmaline, and compassion for others), and cringeworthy (his ingrained objectification of women). This last will be especially hard for the audience to stomach, although it is a trait that the author has Kade take pains to overcome.

A vivid and sure-footed, if predictable, piece of social commentary.

Pub Date: July 2, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 297

Publisher: Tillable Ground Dreams

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2020

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

more