A solid, creepy page-turner.

CONTAGION

From the Contagion series , Vol. 1

A search-and-rescue mission on a hostile planet results in a horrific discovery in this dread-filled sci-fi thriller.

In response to a distress signal, the Odyssey crew sets out to investigate a drilling base on Achlys, a fringe planet harboring something sinister beneath its harsh surface. Seventeen-year-old Thea Sadik certainly values her internship at drilling conglomerate Hevetz Industries working for esteemed microbiologist Lisbeth Tarlow, but the young intern suspects that Tarlow’s tragic past may help to uncover Achlys’ evil secrets. Nova Singh, an 18-year-old brown-skinned pilot, meanwhile tries to act as peacemaker for her fiery cousin, a Hevetz mechanic, and wrestles with her feelings for the headstrong female captain, Dylan Lowe. The team’s search for survivors leads them to an abandoned ship full of deceased personnel as well as a stack of bodies in one of the drilling sites. Using an omnipresent third-person narration to clue readers in at key moments, Bowman (Retribution Rails, 2017, etc.) sets up an intriguing universe, providing small doses of political intrigue that suggest something more grandiose in a potential sequel. Self-serving acts plague the Odyssey crew from the onset, and the author does an admirable job of explaining their motivations even if the answers prove unsatisfying at times. When one of their own is infected by an unknown contagion, the group must fend off an aggressive outbreak. The book assumes a white default.

A solid, creepy page-turner. (Science fiction/horror. 13-adult)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-257414-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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

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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Scheming and action carry readers at a breathless pace to an end that may surprise them and will definitely leave them...

SIEGE AND STORM

From the Grisha Trilogy series , Vol. 2

The Grisha Trilogy turns from bildungsroman to political thriller in its second installment.

Sun Summoner Alina and former Ravkan army tracker Mal, once her childhood friend and now her would-be love, are on the run. All they want is to put Ravka and the megalomaniacal Darkling far behind them. Alas, this is not to be. Captured by the Darkling and forced onto a ship captained by the notorious pirate Sturmhond, they find themselves in pursuit of the second of three magical amplifiers that will make Alina powerful beyond belief—and bind her ever-closer to the ancient, evil Darkling. Sturmhond has an unexpected agenda of his own, though, and turns on the Darkling. Darkling temporarily thwarted, Alina and Mal find themselves back in Ravka’s capital as part of the ailing king’s younger son’s attempt to find his way to the throne. Bardugo’s sophomore effort smooths out many of the rookie wrinkles that marred Shadow and Bone (2012); Alina’s wry voice does not interfere with worldbuilding, instead keeping readers immersed in the plot. Characters are rich and complex, particularly the Peter the Great–like younger prince and Alina herself, beset by competing claims and desires. Is she Mal’s lover? Prince Nikolai’s pawn? Commander of the Grisha Second Army? Saint?

Scheming and action carry readers at a breathless pace to an end that may surprise them and will definitely leave them panting for the series’ conclusion . (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: June 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9460-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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