An entertaining and action-driven tale of assassins and magic.

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DIAMOND CITY

From the City of Steel and Diamond series , Vol. 1

A trained assassin becomes the hunted after she is given an almost impossible target.

Eighteen-year-old orphan Aina Solís grew up on the streets of the Stacks—a mazelike neighborhood in Kosín, a city full of diamond mines. That is, until she was rescued from being blown up in a bar. Six years later, after being trained as a Blade by Kohl—the Blood King, her rescuer, and leader of a gang of hired assassins—Aina is given the task to murder Kouta Hirai, a wealthy businessman who holds the monopoly on diamond-mining tools. As she races to complete the assignment before a week is over, Aina must also protect herself as she is wanted by the Diamond Guards and rival assassin gangs. Aided by Teo—her best friend, fellow assassin, and potential love interest—Aina lives in a constant moral conflict, as she can never forget her parents’ teaching on the value of life and how their unapologetic use of illegal blood magic helped people. However, ever present in her mind are also Kohl’s lessons on survival and her desire for his approval. Despite a compelling plot and array of relationships, the book misses the mark in worldbuilding as the time period and Latin American–inspired culture never feel completely grounded. The diverse characters’ skin tones range from ivory to copper.

An entertaining and action-driven tale of assassins and magic. (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-22044-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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A must-read with a conclusion that will leave readers craving more.

THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS

A monster spreads madness through the streets of Shanghai.

It is the autumn of 1926, and Shanghai is poised at the brink of transformation. Foreign powers have carved out portions of the city for themselves; what remains is divided between two feuding gangs, the Chinese Scarlet Gang and the Russian White Flowers. Eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai has returned home from New York City, wreathed in a reputation for ruthlessness and ready to step into her role as heir to the Scarlet Gang. Four years ago, a betrayal by the White Flowers heir, Roma Montagov, a young man of 19, led to the deaths of countless Scarlets, and Juliette is determined to avenge her gang. But when a lethal contagion strikes the city, targeting Scarlets and White Flowers alike, Juliette and Roma grudgingly agree to cooperate on an investigation in order to save their city. The slow-burning romance in this book takes a back seat to the gripping mystery grounded in immersive historical detail. Allusions to Romeo and Juliet are evident in names and specific scenes, but familiar themes of family, loyalty, and identity bear new significance in Gong’s inventive adaptation. Language is a tool wielded deftly by the multilingual characters, who switch easily among English, French, Shanghainese, Russian, and more, with Mandarin as the primary dialect for Chinese phrases. A strong supporting cast that includes a trans girl completes this striking debut.

A must-read with a conclusion that will leave readers craving more. (Historical fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5769-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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