While the love is so at-first-sight as to be clichéd and the cultural issues problematic, this debut is otherwise sensitive,...

THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD

Time-slips on a time crunch give a teenage girl a long shot at love.

Natalie had thought therapy had banished her favorite hallucination, a mysteriously knowing old woman who calls herself Grandmother and tells Natalie world creation tales and Native American legends. But now she’s returned, with a cryptic message: Natalie only has three months to save an unknown “him.” Before Natalie can puzzle this out, she starts experiencing strange time-slips into an alternate reality where small things are different, centering on a handsome boy who disappears and reappears, a boy to whom Natalie feels an immediate connection. But these moments are unpredictable and disturbing, and Grandmother’s warning hangs overhead, forcing Natalie to spend her last summer before college trying to solve a mystery rooted in suppressed trauma from her past. Natalie, a Native American adoptee, already deals with identity issues that parallel the split worlds she finds herself bouncing between. Moments of introspection are balanced by fully realized secondary characters and occasional moments of hilarity. The story begins slowly but picks up speed and intensity as the clock runs out, ending in a conclusion of intricate twists. Natalie’s specific tribal heritage is unknown, and her search for identity informs the plot in artful ways; although issues surrounding the ethics of cross-cultural adoption and cultural appropriation are carefully touched upon, it’s still hard not to see Natalie’s background as a plot device more than anything else.

While the love is so at-first-sight as to be clichéd and the cultural issues problematic, this debut is otherwise sensitive, lyrical, and deftly plotted. (Speculative fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59514-850-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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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

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