The frequent shifts make it hard to keep track of who’s where in this dizzying debut, but Ephraim’s ability to see past the...

FAIR COIN

A spin through parallel universes schools a teenager in the hazards of making wishes.

Ephraim comes home one day to find his troubled mother in the midst of a suicide attempt—having just, she claims, viewed his body in the morgue. More puzzling still, among the corpse’s effects is a strange-looking quarter. When prompted by a mysterious note in his school locker, he tries making a wish on it, and, to his amazement, his mother is suddenly out of the hospital with no memory of the day before. Complications ensue as further wishes hook him up with classmate Jena but also ring in other, unexpected and increasingly disturbing changes. Horrified to learn at last that the coin is actually a mentally controlled part of a device for traveling among alternate realities, that each “quantum shift” he makes forcibly switches him with an analog of himself and that the rest of the device is in the hands of a casually violent version of (in his universe) his best friend Nathan, Ephraim sets out to make amends. Ephraim’s strategy of returning all of his displaced analogs to their original planes simply by retracing his travels doesn’t hold water (you can’t go home again when every change from quantum events up spawns a new reality), but by the end he’s earned the self-confidence to make fresh starts with both mother and girlfriend.

The frequent shifts make it hard to keep track of who’s where in this dizzying debut, but Ephraim’s ability to see past the temptations of power despite an active teen libido provides him with a sturdy moral base. (Science fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61614-609-2

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Pyr/Prometheus Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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An entertaining fantasy set in a world that readers will want to revisit.

THESE HOLLOW VOWS

Brie risks the deadly land of the Fae to save her sister.

Brie doesn’t trust many people other than Jas, her eternally hopeful sister, and Sebastian, mage apprentice and Brie’s secret love (as if she had time for romance). Brie struggles to meet the payments for the magical contracts binding their lives to Madame Vivias, supplementing her cleaning work by stealing from the rich. While the land of Faerie tempts other girls with word of a castle, a lavish ball, and a fae prince seeking a wife, Brie mistrusts the creatures who capitalize on humanity’s greed. When Jas’ contract is sold to the fae, Brie braves the golden Seelie queen’s court, meets the noble Prince Ronan, and travels on to the Unseelie king’s shadow court. In the process she discovers love, historical secrets, atrocities, and her own hidden strength. While many elements regarding the fae and a love triangle will feel familiar to fans of the genre, and the magic could have been more fleshed out, discussions of power, inequity, trust, and hope expand the worldbuilding in refreshing ways. Similarly, consideration of the balance between truth and secrets, lies and stories, is intriguing as it’s applied to characters, relationships, and historical lore. Despite certain predictable reveals, the plot itself, which starts off slowly, picks up and is pleasantly convoluted with multiple satisfying surprises. Major human characters read as White.

An entertaining fantasy set in a world that readers will want to revisit. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-38657-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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A purple page turner.

CLOCKWORK PRINCE

From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 2

This sequel to Clockwork Angel (2010) pits gorgeous, attractively broken teens against a menacing evil.

There's betrayal, mayhem and clockwork monstrosities, and the Shadowhunters have only two weeks to discover—oh, who are we kidding? The plot is only surprisingly tasty icing on this cupcake of a melodramatic love triangle. Our heroes are Tessa, who may or may not be a warlock, and the beautiful Shadowhunter warrior boys who are moths to her forbidden flame. It's not always clear why Tessa prefers Will to his beloved (and only) friend Jem, the dying, silver-eyed, biracial sweetheart with the face of an angel. Jem, after all, is gentle and kind, her dearest confidante; Will is unpleasant to everyone around him. But poor, wretched Will—who "would have been pretty if he had not been so tall and so muscular"—has a deep, dark, thoroughly emo secret. His trauma puts all previous romantic difficulties to shame, from the Capulet/Montague feud all the way to Edward Cullen's desire to chomp on Bella Swan. Somehow there's room for an interesting steampunk mystery amid all this angst. The supporting characters (unusually well-developed for a love-triangle romance) include multiple compelling young women who show strength in myriad ways. So what if there are anachronisms, character inconsistencies and weird tonal slips? There's too much overwrought fun to care.

A purple page turner. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7588-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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