A fitting end to an exceptional trilogy.

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THE GAME OF LIVES

From the Mortality Doctrine series , Vol. 3

After narrowly escaping the villainous Tangent Kaine's clutches at the conclusion of The Rule of Thoughts (2014), Michael, Bryson, and Sarah are joined by Michael's old nanny, Helga, and a group of rebel Tangents to thwart Kaine's evil plans once and for all.

But not all is as it seems. Tragedy occurs, motives are revealed, and foe becomes friend in Dashner's exciting finale. Dashner throws everything he has in to this volume, making for a breathless, action-packed read that will have readers on the edges of their seats. He further explores his hard sci-fi premise, in which beings flow like water between a computer world and a real world, lending the book as much speculative fun as action. The characterization still leaves a bit to be desired; few characters are given the depth and shading the author gives to Michael and Kaine. Moreover, Dashner doesn’t seem to have quite enough guts to keep a particularly painful death permanent; the novel's final pages allude to a resurrection that, while sweet, will make a few readers roll their eyes. However, in the broadest of strokes Dashner has stuck the landing, crafting a complete sci-fi trilogy that has little fat to trim and plenty of action, laughs, thoughts, and emotion. These books have notably improved with each outing, making this the best of the bunch.

A fitting end to an exceptional trilogy. (Science fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-74143-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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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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