With the end always in sight, readers know from the get-go that this cosmic romance will be one wild ride.


Fourteen-year-old David Gershwin, who’s waiting for another growth spurt, is used to troubled teens staying at his famous therapist dad’s home in Normandy, France, but one in particular captures his attention: Zelda, a girl of Amazonian stature who claims to be from the planet Vahalal (where men are forbidden) and who’s looking for her “chosen one.” By Zook, this potential mate just happens to be Johnny Depp.

David’s over-the-top humorous narration drives this slim, fast-paced debut, which is reminiscent of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe. When he discovers that Zelda has secretly followed him to Paris, where his chain-smoking, designer-clothes–devotee mother lives, he vows to serve Zelda as her “Pudin” (comically confused as “pudding”) and enlists the help of his older quasi-stepsister Malou, whose playful banter often borders on flirtation. As they outrun police on the rooftops of Paris and spar with exile Valks on their zany pursuit, David experiences “gustative biochemistry” (a.k.a. his first kiss)—and more. Surrounded by so many tough females, he can’t help but finally muster some self-confidence, while no-nonsense, kickass Zelda, who claims that love is a sin on her planet, may be giving in to their “Earthling display of affection (EDA)” and re-evaluating her real chosen one.

With the end always in sight, readers know from the get-go that this cosmic romance will be one wild ride. (Science fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: June 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8118-7460-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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An adventurous and relevant fantasy that strives for gold but settles, in the end, for silver.

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From the Deathless series , Vol. 1

Sixteen-year-old Deka seeks acceptance and absolution.

Every year adolescent girls in the patriarchal kingdom of Otera prepare for the Ritual of Purity that determines whether they can join their communities as pure-blooded women or be cast out and branded impure monsters. Brown-skinned, gray-eyed Deka yearns to prove she belongs, but when her blood runs gold, she’s revealed to be an alaki—a near-immortal woman warrior—and is carted away to become the front line of defense for the people who’ve discarded her. With measured focus, debut author Forna creates a provocative world filled with fantastical creatures, centuries-old divine conflict, and overt feminist messaging around gender inequity and “purity.” Also compelling is Forna’s ability to capture feelings tugging on the consciences of many, telling them they are unworthy of life, liberty, and unconditional love because of who they are. The character development is a bit superficial, unfurling quickly with movie montage–like speed. There is celebration of diverse body types, some peripheral queer representation, and ethnic diversity that roughly correlates with the real world (e.g. a character called Li is from the East, and Northerners have pink skin and blond hair). The plot-twist climax is hinted at throughout the book, held just out of reach until the pieces fall neatly together. Unfortunately, the energy then peters out for the falling action and epilogue.

An adventurous and relevant fantasy that strives for gold but settles, in the end, for silver. (map) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984848-69-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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An accomplished, exciting debut.


From the All the Stars and Teeth series , Vol. 1

A princess embarks on a dangerous path to the throne.

In the island kingdom of Visidia, where each person is allowed just one type of magic, only the members of the royal Montara family have the ability to wield the dangerous soul magic. Princess Amora is next in line to be High Animancer, but she must first prove to her people that she is powerful enough to use her magic to protect them. But something goes terribly wrong during a critical public ceremony, and Amora runs away with dashing pirate Bastian, whose rescue comes with a price: She must help him recover his own magic, stolen away by a dangerous man leading a growing rebellion that could bring down the whole kingdom. Debut author Grace wields her own magic with a skillful balancing act between high-stakes adventure (here there be monsters, mermaids, and high-seas shenanigans), bloody fantasy, and character development in a story with a lovable found family at its core. Amora yearns for adventure just as she welcomes her right to command her kingdom; her ferocious sense of duty and legitimate need to do good shine through. The novel’s further unravelling of dark secrets long kept comes with a recognized need for accountability and making amends which adds a thoughtful extra layer to the rich worldbuilding. Amora has copper-brown skin and dark, curly hair; other characters have a range of skin tones in this diverse world.

An accomplished, exciting debut. (guide to the kingdom) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30778-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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