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DEVASTATION CLASS

A tempting concept marred by uninspired writing.

Teenage cadets must fight battles both within and outside their ranks to survive the unknown.

When the Kastazi—an alien race fleeing a dying planet—came to Earth, it started the Nine-Year War, but the Alliance destroyed them. Now in peacetime, the Alliance has launched the Explorers Program, selecting only the most elite cadets who will be future leaders. Leading them are JD and Viv. Overwhelmed by the program’s challenges, JD has been sabotaging himself. Meanwhile, Viv is consumed by the events surrounding her father’s death when new evidence of what happened appears. But none of that matters when their battleship, the UAS California, is unexpectedly attacked by a Kastazi Destroyer. The moment the cadets thought was far off is suddenly present: Seizing control of the ship, JD and Viv take risk after risk to fend off hostiles as the deep-rooted distrust between civilian students and cadets mounts. Just as the cadets think they’ve found respite, a new mystery unfolds, leaving them searching for answers. Readers who don’t mind the near-glacial buildup laying out the history with precise, technical language will be rewarded with the action that follows. Although there are several alternating first-person voices, JD and Viv are the most well-realized characters; their peers fall flat. Readers may get lost in the dialogue, as speech indicators are sparse. Main characters are cued as white; names suggest some ethnic diversity in the supporting cast.

A tempting concept marred by uninspired writing. (Science fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-310-76900-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Blink

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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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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