THE BETRAYAL OF MAGGIE BLAIR

Sixteen-year-old Maggie lives a poor life in 17th-century Scotland with her Granny, whose ill temper, foul mouth and skills at healing make her an easy target for the witch-hunting church. Escaping the mob, Maggie journeys to find her only other family. They turn out to be Covenanters, outlawed from practicing their religion, and when her Uncle Blair is jailed in far away Dunnottar Castle, it’s Maggie who makes the dangerous journey to help him, proving both her place in her new family and her independence from them. Laird, a five-time nominee for the Carnegie Medal, bases her novel loosely on her own family’s history, which may explain the occasional lack of focus in her narrative arc. However, she more than makes up for this with her fine and effortless prose, creating instantly gripping characters and setting and communicating the effect of the religious politics on the perspective of a young adult at that time. If Maggie sometimes seems oddly naïve for a person of such an age at that time, her point of view will resonate with teenagers today, as will her death-defying journey, her scrappiness and determination in the face of extreme poverty and little love. (Historical fiction. 11-16)

Pub Date: April 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-34126-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Sanderson (Legion, 2018, etc.) plainly had a ball with this nonstop, highflying opener, and readers will too.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2018

  • New York Times Bestseller

SKYWARD

From the Skyward series , Vol. 1

Eager to prove herself, the daughter of a flier disgraced for cowardice hurls herself into fighter pilot training to join a losing war against aliens.

Plainly modeled as a cross between Katniss Everdeen and Conan the Barbarian (“I bathed in fires of destruction and reveled in the screams of the defeated. I didn’t get afraid”), Spensa “Spin” Nightshade leaves her previous occupation—spearing rats in the caverns of the colony planet Detritus for her widowed mother’s food stand—to wangle a coveted spot in the Defiant Defense Force’s flight school. Opportunities to exercise wild recklessness and growing skill begin at once, as the class is soon in the air, battling the mysterious Krell raiders who have driven people underground. Spensa, who is assumed white, interacts with reasonably diverse human classmates with varying ethnic markers. M-Bot, a damaged AI of unknown origin, develops into a comical sidekick: “Hello!...You have nearly died, and so I will say something to distract you from the serious, mind-numbing implications of your own mortality! I hate your shoes.” Meanwhile, hints that all is not as it seems, either with the official story about her father or the whole Krell war in general, lead to startling revelations and stakes-raising implications by the end. Stay tuned. Maps and illustrations not seen.

Sanderson (Legion, 2018, etc.) plainly had a ball with this nonstop, highflying opener, and readers will too. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-55577-0

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun.

STARSIGHT

From the Skyward series , Vol. 2

As if the threat of huge, raging monsters from hyperspace isn’t scary enough, hotshot fighter pilot Spensa Nightshade becomes embroiled in an alien empire’s politics.

On a desperate mission to steal hyperdrive technology from the crablike invading Krell who are threatening to destroy her beleaguered home colony on Detritus, Spensa, who is white, holographically disguises herself as a violet-skinned UrDail and slips into a Krell pilot training program for “lesser species.” The discovery that she’s being secretly trained not to fight planet-destroying delvers but to exterminate humans, who are (with some justification, having kindled three interstellar wars in past centuries) regarded in certain quarters as an irrationally aggressive species, is just one in a string of revelations as, in between numerous near-death experiences on practice flights, she struggles to understand both her own eerie abilities and the strange multispecies society in which she finds herself. There are so many characters besides Spensa searching for self-identity—notably her comic-relief sidekick AI M-Bot, troubled human friend Jorgen back on Detritus, and Morriumur, member of a species whose color-marked sexes create trial offspring—that even with a plot that defaults to hot action and escalating intrigue the pacing has a stop and start quality. Still, Spensa’s habitual over-the-top recklessness adds a rousing spark, and the author folds in plenty of banter as well as a colorful supporting cast.

Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-55581-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more