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GOLDEN DREG BOY

THE SLUMS

From the Golden Dreg Boy series , Vol. 1

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

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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

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  • New York Times Bestseller

DIVINE RIVALS

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

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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

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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