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THE MONSTERJUNKIES

SANCTUARY

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

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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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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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DIVINE RIVALS

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

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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

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