Plenty of mysteries and betrayals set up the trilogy’s forthcoming conclusion, which fans will eagerly await

SHADOWS

From the Ashes series , Vol. 2

Earth’s few remaining normal teenagers struggle to survive in this gruesome, bloody post-apocalyptic sequel.

The world’s gone completely to hell: All nonelderly adults are dead, and most teenagers are Changed into zombielike feral children who eat humans alive. Survivors huddle into protective enclaves and protect themselves with deadly force. The cliffhanger ending of Ashes (2011)—Alex flees from the strangely religious community of Rule only to stumble into the bone-strewn larder of a pack of Changed—takes 100 pages to resolve, mostly due to the shifts in perspective to other un-Changed teenagers driving these action-packed short chapters. Alex is a prisoner of the Changed, and as they drive her through the snowy wilderness, she sees that their behavior is, disturbingly, growing less feral: They use guns, make uniforms and practice profitless cruelties. The remaining adults seem nearly as cruel, practicing Josef Mengele–style experiments and killing children to cover ancient political feuds. Sometimes it seems like the only difference is that the Changed eat their prey, devouring them in sensuously described murder and torture scenes packed with fountaining blood and festooned guts. Nearly every chapter ends with a cliffhanger, keeping the horror appropriately unending: “And then Spider squeezed the trigger.” “The knife hacked down with a whir.” “And then, it moved.”

Plenty of mysteries and betrayals set up the trilogy’s forthcoming conclusion, which fans will eagerly await . (Horror. 14-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60684-176-1

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Egmont USA

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.

FIREBORNE

From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

What happens to the world after the dust from a revolution has settled?

Friends Annie and Lee were children from very different circles when Atreus killed Lee’s father, dragonlord Leon Stormscourge, ending the uprising on the bloodiest day in Callipolis’ history. For too long the dragonriders held all the power while their people starved and lived in fear. Nine years later, a new generation of dragonriders is emerging, children selected and trained on merit, not bloodlines. Their dragons are finally mature enough for them to compete for Firstrider, a position of power that can give Lee back a small part of what his family lost. However, not only is Lee competing against Annie, but rumors are circulating that some of the royal family have survived and have dragons of their own. Everyone will have to make a choice: Restore the old regime, support the First Protector and the new caste system he created, or look for a new way, no matter what the cost. From the beginning, this book pulls readers in with political intrigue and action. What keeps them invested, however, are the complex relationships between many cast members. Choices are complex, and the consequences for all could be deadly. The world is well fleshed out and believable. Annie and Lee are light skinned; secondary characters are diverse, and race is a nonissue in this world.

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes. (author’s note) (Fantasy.14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51821-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Several yards short of a touchdown.

STAY GOLD

A transgender boy starting over at a new school falls hard for a popular cheerleader with a reputation to protect in this debut.

On the first day of senior year, transgender boy Pony locks eyes with cisgender cheerleader Georgia. They both have pasts they want to leave behind. No one at Hillcrest High knows that Pony is transgender, and he intends to keep it that way. Georgia’s last boyfriend shook her trust in boys, and now she’s determined to forget him. As mutual attraction draws them together, Pony and Georgia must decide what they are willing to risk for a relationship. Pony’s best friend, Max, who is also transgender, disapproves of Pony’s choice to live stealth; this disagreement leads to serious conflict in their relationship. Meanwhile, Georgia and Pony behave as if Pony’s trans identity was a secret he was lying to her about rather than private information for him to share of his own volition. The characters only arrive at a hopeful resolution after Pony pays high physical and emotional prices. McSmith places repeated emphasis on the born-in-the-wrong-body narrative when the characters discuss trans identities. Whiteness is situated as the norm, and all main characters are white.

Several yards short of a touchdown. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294317-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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