Endlessly fascinating and fun.

EMPRESS OF THE SUN

From the Everness series , Vol. 3

The marvelous Everness series takes readers to a world with highly evolved dinosaurs in this third voyage through parallel universes.

Readers will need to be familiar with the first two books (Planesrunner, 2011; Be My Enemy, 2012) to have a hope of understanding what’s happening this time. The story grows ever-more complex as it follows three plotlines. First comes the main plot with hero Everett Singh, who accidentally guides the Everness to an Alderson Disk, a conglomeration of planets engineered into a vast flat disk, where it crash-lands. Worse, the “Diskworld” (with a nod to Sir Terry Pratchett), has been devised by dangerous, intelligent dinosaurs called the Jiju, which did not go extinct in this parallel universe and have been evolving for tens of millions of years longer than humans. Meanwhile, on our Earth, Everett’s “alter,” Everett M, tries to fight off an invasion of the Nahn, intelligent nanobots that absorb every living thing they touch. Villain Charlotte Villiers once again plots to steal the Infundibulum, the map of all the universes, from Everett. McDonald lets his imagination run rampant without abandoning credibility, tackling real scientific concepts such as confirmation bias, a feature lacking in far too much science fiction. Fans might wish for more focus on the original Everett, but eventually, the three storylines weave themselves together nicely, setting up another sequel with hints of forthcoming romance.

Endlessly fascinating and fun. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61614-865-2

Page Count: 275

Publisher: Pyr/Prometheus Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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An epic series opener of old-school high fantasy catering to modern audiences.

REALM BREAKER

When the realm is in danger, only a small band of misfits can save Allward.

An in medias res prologue, told from the point of view of the lone squire accompanying the 12 Companions of the Realm, tosses readers into the thick of a quest. Half the Companions are human heroes and half are immortal Elders; they seek to stop a rogue thief and his wizard accomplice from using a magical Spindle to tear a passage between worlds for nefarious ends. A disastrous battle sends squire Andry fleeing with Cortael’s sword so villain Taristan can’t get his hands on it. Grieving Elder Dom requires both a person of Corblood (a descendant of human travelers from another realm) and the Spindleblade Andry protects to stop Taristan from bringing ruin to the realm. Dom seeks Cortael’s secret daughter, Corayne, a bright but sheltered teenager with a pirate mother. At times the narrative tension is undermined by flashbacks that readers already know the conclusions to and by occasional repetition caused by the multiple point-of-view jumps, but there’s a wide variety of action scenes, daring escapes, and betrayals. Many tropes and character types are familiar, but exquisite descriptions and clashing motivations result in a nuanced, sprawling realm with a sense of complicated history. This world is highly diverse in terms of both skin tone and in the refreshing range of roles female characters inhabit.

An epic series opener of old-school high fantasy catering to modern audiences. (map) (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-287262-3

Page Count: 576

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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