Even readers on their own 14th rereads of the series will find new insights to ponder.

DUMBLEDORE

THE LIFE AND LIES OF HOGWARTS'S RENOWNED HEADMASTER: AN UNOFFICIAL EXPLORATION

Albus Dumbledore: saintly mentor and protector of young wizards or ruthless Machiavellian manipulator?

In this edition of a previously self-published collection of essays gathered from his columns on the fan website MuggleNet, Khaytman spins hints in the texts and purely speculative notions together into a broad view of what Hogwarts’ headmaster knew, when he knew it, and what he did about it in his campaign to quash He Who Must Not Be Named. Even though he opens with a key to the jargon, readers who can’t keep SS (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) separate from QA (Quidditch Through the Ages) or easily distinguish Quirrellmort from Cupcrux will struggle to keep up as he minutely analyzes Dumbledore’s influence in events through each of the seven original HPs in turn. Khaytman writes that he reread the series 14 times but freely acknowledges ideas contributed by fellow fan critics both as he goes and, in greater detail, in an annotated bibliography. In the end, though, some of what Dumbledore did—or what he surmises Dumbledore must have done—creates a dilemma for readers, and the author ultimately leaves him, for all his scheming ways and imperfections, on the side of the angels. Dumbledore’s sexuality does not come up nor, aside from a reference drawn from DH to his character’s being “white as his beard,” does his race. Three appendices further explore the canon.

Even readers on their own 14th rereads of the series will find new insights to ponder. (Literary criticism. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-948174-78-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Media Lab Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends.

RED QUEEN

From the Red Queen series , Vol. 1

Amid a war and rising civil unrest, a young thief discovers the shocking power within her that sparks a revolution.

At 17, Mare knows that without an apprenticeship or job, her next birthday will bring a conscription to join the war. She contributes to her poor family’s income the only way she can, stealing from the Silvers, who possess myriad powers and force her and her fellow Reds into servitude. The Silvers literally bleed silver, and they can manipulate metal, plants and animals, among many other talents. When Mare’s best friend, Kilorn, loses his job and is doomed to conscription, she is determined to change his fate. She stumbles into a mysterious stranger after her plan goes awry and is pulled out of her village and into the world of Silver royalty. Once inside the palace walls, it isn’t long before Mare learns that powers unknown to red-blooded humans lie within her, powers that could lead a revolution. Familiar tropes abound. Mare is revealed as a great catalyst for change among classes and is groomed from rags to riches, and of course, seemingly kind characters turn out to be foes. However, Aveyard weaves a compelling new world, and Mare and the two men in her life evolve intriguingly as class tension rises. Revolution supersedes romance, setting the stage for action-packed surprises.

An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-231063-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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