A well-wrought sequel with more than a few excellent messages for young readers.



A peculiar family of cryptozoologists confronts the tides of change in this young-adult fantasy.

Shein and Gates (Being a Normal Family Is a State of Mind, 2014) deliver the second entry in their well-received Monsterjunkies saga set in Foggy Point, Maine. Cromwell “Crow” Monsterjunkie can’t stop looking over his shoulder, and for good reason: His nemesis, the bullying Ruth Grimes Jr., won’t live down the humiliation he suffered at Crow’s hands not long ago. But for Crow, whose family’s mission is “to find, protect, and study unusual, rare, and thought to be nonexistent species,” Ruth is the least of his worries. For instance, there’s Crow’s friend Beauregard—a highly intelligent sasquatch living under the Monsterjunkies’ care—who yearns to leave the family estate and seek his origins. Crow’s sister, Indigo, has grown petulant as college (and her future) looms. And Crow can’t find the words to tell his renowned professor father that inheriting the family legacy isn’t exactly on his to-do list. When they’re not caring for pterodactyls, sea serpents or shape-shifting gargoyles, the Monsterjunkies struggle with issues that are nearly universal among teenagers and young adults. Like all teens, Crow and Indigo learn—however unwillingly—that with time comes change. The animals they’ve nursed to health and loved like pets must eventually be reintegrated to the wild; their friend, Winter, crumbles before their eyes while attempting to cope with her mother’s death; and, perhaps most traumatically, they come to realize their parents aren’t infallible. As Crow’s fears mount, his father advises him: “It’s how you learn to know, to find out who you really are, what you feel, what you like and don’t like, what you need, what you believe. You may have to start by just listening.” Readers learn by listening, too—this tale of identity and self-approbation is accompanied by enough scientific facts and environmental philosophies to double as a high school textbook. Insightful but not overly self-righteous, it encourages compassion and a deference to the unknown.

A well-wrought sequel with more than a few excellent messages for young readers.

Pub Date: June 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1500348328

Page Count: 190

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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A wild ride both fantastical and grounded in nuance.


From the King of Scars Duology series , Vol. 2

Following King of Scars (2019), the world’s a powder keg of political hostilities and existential threats.

In a juggling act between viewpoint characters, readers follow far-ranging intrigues inside countries, between countries, and between individuals. King Nikolai faces imminent threats from Fjerda, rumors of his bastardy that threaten to dethrone him, complicated trade relations with both Zemeni and Kerch, and an engagement to Princess Ehri of Shu Han—despite her sister, Queen Makhi, having schemed to kill both of them. Zoya, Nikolai’s loyal general, is handed a series of nigh-impossible assignments, including some having to do with the Darkling. Meanwhile, deeply embedded Nina spies on Fjerda, working to undermine the rumors surrounding Nikolai’s parentage, uncover Fjerda’s military plans, manipulate their royals toward a more peaceful path, and secretly sway the population’s view of Grisha. And all over the world, a mysterious blight suddenly appears, destroying everything in its path. Sprinklings of recaps and lots of action help to prevent the massively intricate world from becoming overwhelming. Battles in particular shine, not just for their action, but for the questions they pose about the direction of warfare in an arms race. The multiethnic cast that includes queer characters and relationships showcases a White-passing biracial character grappling with identity and another character’s trans-coded journey. A big finish manages to tidy up almost all ends but still leaves space for more to come.

A wild ride both fantastical and grounded in nuance. (Orders of Grisha guide, map) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-14230-6

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly...


From the Giver Quartet series , Vol. 1

In a radical departure from her realistic fiction and comic chronicles of Anastasia, Lowry creates a chilling, tightly controlled future society where all controversy, pain, and choice have been expunged, each childhood year has its privileges and responsibilities, and family members are selected for compatibility.

As Jonas approaches the "Ceremony of Twelve," he wonders what his adult "Assignment" will be. Father, a "Nurturer," cares for "newchildren"; Mother works in the "Department of Justice"; but Jonas's admitted talents suggest no particular calling. In the event, he is named "Receiver," to replace an Elder with a unique function: holding the community's memories—painful, troubling, or prone to lead (like love) to disorder; the Elder ("The Giver") now begins to transfer these memories to Jonas. The process is deeply disturbing; for the first time, Jonas learns about ordinary things like color, the sun, snow, and mountains, as well as love, war, and death: the ceremony known as "release" is revealed to be murder. Horrified, Jonas plots escape to "Elsewhere," a step he believes will return the memories to all the people, but his timing is upset by a decision to release a newchild he has come to love. Ill-equipped, Jonas sets out with the baby on a desperate journey whose enigmatic conclusion resonates with allegory: Jonas may be a Christ figure, but the contrasts here with Christian symbols are also intriguing.

Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly provocative novel. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 978-0-395-64566-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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