Will satisfy die-hard fans of the original trilogy

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THE FEVER CODE

From the Maze Runner series , Vol. 5

Dashner returns to his dystopian future in this second prequel to the blockbuster Maze Runner series, detailing how the maze came into being.

Solar flares inflicted horrible damage to the Earth, and the resulting illness known as the Flare has mown down much of the human population. A few survivors, primarily children, are known to be immune to the disease that is driving their loved ones into madness and death. Taken to a hidden scientific research complex in Alaska known as World In Catastrophe, Killzone Experiment Department, they grow up in near isolation, with little human contact. Thomas is a “munie,” taken when he was only 5, destined to be an elite subject in a long-range study to find a cure. It’s only after several years he meets other munies, developing friendships with many. But it’s Teresa who becomes more than a friend, his partner in developing the maze, meant to help scientists understand how different stimuli impact munies’ brains. Along the way, Thomas sees incredible cruelty inflicted on his friends, all in the cause of developing an elusive cure. He’s been taught that “WICKED is good”…but how long can he actually believe it? While the story details how the maze was built, it is still confusing as to why, giving this the feeling of simply a preface to set up all that follows. Thomas (evidently white, though his comrades are a multiethnic crew) goes from scene to scene like a piece on a Parcheesi board, moving in fits and starts to a predetermined end.

Will satisfy die-hard fans of the original trilogy . (Science fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-51309-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2016

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Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful.

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SALT TO THE SEA

January 1945: as Russians advance through East Prussia, four teens’ lives converge in hopes of escape.

Returning to the successful formula of her highly lauded debut, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys combines research (described in extensive backmatter) with well-crafted fiction to bring to life another little-known story: the sinking (from Soviet torpedoes) of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff. Told in four alternating voices—Lithuanian nurse Joana, Polish Emilia, Prussian forger Florian, and German soldier Alfred—with often contemporary cadences, this stints on neither history nor fiction. The three sympathetic refugees and their motley companions (especially an orphaned boy and an elderly shoemaker) make it clear that while the Gustloff was a German ship full of German civilians and soldiers during World War II, its sinking was still a tragedy. Only Alfred, stationed on the Gustloff, lacks sympathy; almost a caricature, he is self-delusional, unlikable, a Hitler worshiper. As a vehicle for exposition, however, and a reminder of Germany’s role in the war, he serves an invaluable purpose that almost makes up for the mustache-twirling quality of his petty villainy. The inevitability of the ending (including the loss of several characters) doesn’t change its poignancy, and the short chapters and slowly revealed back stories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning.

Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful. (author’s note, research and sources, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-16030-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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