An imaginative, gripping YA tale of love and violence.

Raksha

Young-adult science fiction about a teenage warrior girl who escapes her dystopian society and goes on a mission to find herself.

Rose (Eternal Hope, 2012, etc.) doesn’t disappoint in her third YA outing. In a futuristic society known as the Sanctuary, 16-year-old Kit is a member of the Falin class. The Sanctuary fits each Falin with a permanent “halo,” a device that provides its host with a constant feed of emotion-blocking drugs. As a result, Falin feel no anger, sadness, joy, love, pity or shame—which is why Kit has become her nation’s most renowned arena fighter without feeling an ounce of guilt over killing so many other young people. But when her best friend, Asha, manages to disengage Kit’s halo, everything changes. No longer content to be a political pawn and gambling plaything, Kit escapes the Sanctuary and goes to Freetown, where she witnesses a very different kind of society. Meanwhile, she struggles to process her many new feelings; complicating matters, of course, is a male warrior who makes it his business to become Kit’s savior. This YA adventure has action-packed fight scenes, strong emotional connections, tragic losses and a healthy dose of sarcasm. Kit, as narrator, describes frighteningly violent fights in detail and later moves fluidly into personal, confusing romantic reflections. She struggles with familial losses and with achieving her larger goals in an uncertain world. Rose handles these scenarios with finesse and insight. As the residents of the Sanctuary and Freetown prepare for war, readers can only hope that there will soon be a sequel to tie up the remaining loose ends.

An imaginative, gripping YA tale of love and violence. 

Pub Date: May 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-1483945156

Page Count: 354

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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All the narrative propulsion of escapist fiction without the escape.

PHASE SIX

Paced like a prophetic thriller, this novel suggests that "pandemic" is a continuing series.

Shepard has frequently employed research as a foundation for his literary creations, but never before in such pulse-racing fashion. He's set this narrative in the near future, when the threat of Covid-19 has passed but provides a cautionary lesson. And what have we learned from it? Not enough, apparently, as an outbreak within an extremely isolated settlement of Greenland begins its viral spread around the globe. Readers will find themselves in territory that feels eerily familiar—panic, politics, uncertainty, fear, a resistance to quarantine, an overload of media noise—as Shepard's command of tone never lets the tension ease. Eleven-year-old Aleq somehow survives the initial outbreak, which takes the lives of everyone close to him, and he may provide the key to some resolution if anyone can get him to talk. The novel follows the boy and the pandemic from Greenland to a laboratory facility in Montana as, in little more than a month, the virus or whatever it is, spread by touching, traveling, breathing, has infected some 14 million around the world. Jeannine Dziri and Danice Torrone, a pair of young researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who have dubbed themselves the “Junior Certain Death Squad,” find themselves on the front lines as they attempt to balance personal relationships (which occasionally read like plot contrivances) with all-consuming professional responsibilities. Meanwhile, the pandemic proceeds relentlessly. “APOCALYPSE II?” screams a Fox graphic amid “the social media cacophony,” as mass hysteria shows how human nature can take a horrible situation and make it so much worse. And though the novel builds to a sort of redemption, it suggests that there will be no resolution to the current pandemic beyond nervous anticipation toward the ones to come. Channeling Pasteur, Shepard promises—or threatens—“It will always be the microbes that have the last word.”

All the narrative propulsion of escapist fiction without the escape.

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-65545-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

THE FIFTH SEASON

From the The Broken Earth series , Vol. 1

In the first volume of a trilogy, a fresh cataclysm besets a physically unstable world whose ruling society oppresses its most magically powerful inhabitants.

The continent ironically known as the Stillness is riddled with fault lines and volcanoes and periodically suffers from Seasons, civilization-destroying tectonic catastrophes. It’s also occupied by a small population of orogenes, people with the ability to sense and manipulate thermal and kinetic energy. They can quiet earthquakes and quench volcanoes…but also touch them off. While they’re necessary, they’re also feared and frequently lynched. The “lucky” ones are recruited by the Fulcrum, where the brutal training hones their powers in the service of the Empire. The tragic trap of the orogene's life is told through three linked narratives (the link is obvious fairly quickly): Damaya, a fierce, ambitious girl new to the Fulcrum; Syenite, an angry young woman ordered to breed with her bitter and frighteningly powerful mentor and who stumbles across secrets her masters never intended her to know; and Essun, searching for the husband who murdered her young son and ran away with her daughter mere hours before a Season tore a fiery rift across the Stillness. Jemisin (The Shadowed Sun, 2012, etc.) is utterly unflinching; she tackles racial and social politics which have obvious echoes in our own world while chronicling the painfully intimate struggle between the desire to survive at all costs and the need to maintain one’s personal integrity. Beneath the story’s fantastic trappings are incredibly real people who undergo intense, sadly believable pain.

With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-22929-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

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