Despite an exciting and complex plot, far less special than the first two.

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EARTH FLIGHT

In this far-future trilogy’s conclusion, a disabled archaeology student–cum–military hero deciphers an alien probe.

In 2789, humanity lives on 1,200 different worlds, everyone teleporting effortlessly among star systems—except the fraction of humans who are born Handicapped, their immune systems viable only on Earth. Eighteen-year-old Jarra’s Handicapped, and although she’s accomplished great archaeological and military feats (Earth Girl, 2013; Earth Star, 2014), she feels trapped on Earth. As Jarra and her boyfriend, Fian, provide critical assistance to the Military in decoding an alien probe, anti-Handicapped hostility escalates to an acid attack and a bombing. Jarra’s and Fian’s combined intellects lead to complex realizations (which are exciting though out of the blue; readers are merely along for the ride): there is a danger to humanity that only Jarra can tackle—and only from a distant planet. To that end, she undergoes an extreme and risky physical operation. It cures her disability. (It also places scientifically necessary lights under her skin, coincidentally making her “more beautiful.”) This wish-fulfillment ending severely undermines the series’ social-justice theme about mistreatment of the Handicapped; moreover, it falls into the literary rut of magical cures, implying that (still-) disabled protagonists and happy endings are a mismatch. Readers captivated by the first two installments’ thrilling archaeological excavations will find them absent here.

Despite an exciting and complex plot, far less special than the first two. (Science fiction. 11-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63388-092-4

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Pyr/Prometheus Books

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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Witty and funny, with well-rounded characters who face complex inner moral issues.

HOUSE OF DRAGONS

From the House of Dragons series , Vol. 1

In a world dominated by order, chaos threatens to upend tradition when unlikely competitors are chosen to fight for the throne.

Emperor Erasmus is dead, leaving the Great Dragon to decide the future of the Etrusian Empire. Traditionally, the oldest child from each of the five Houses and his or her dragon compete for the throne. However, this time outsiders are called to compete: Chara and her rider, Emilia, youngest daughter of House Aurun, who holds the magic of chaos; Tyche and her rider, Lucian, reformed warrior of House Sabel; Karina and her rider, Vespir, the lowborn, lesbian servant girl and dragon handler of House Pentri; Dog and his rider, Ajax, the wily illegitimate son of House Tiber; and Minerva and her rider, Julia, who are challenged by Hyperia, who believes the throne is her birthright, and her feral dragon, Aufidius. During the stages of the Emperor’s Trial—the Hunt, the Game, the Race, and the Truth—each competitor faces their own personal weaknesses. Multiple perspectives create depth in this complex fantasy world with flawed human characters who have murder, destruction, thievery, and cowardice in their backgrounds. Cluess’ dragons have unique personalities and voices of their own, becoming as central to the story as their human riders. Most characters are cued as white; blonde hair and blue eyes are valorized. Vespir’s lesbian identity is neatly and naturally woven into her character.

Witty and funny, with well-rounded characters who face complex inner moral issues. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-64815-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles.

A MAP OF DAYS

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 4

The victory of Jacob and his fellow peculiars over the previous episode’s wights and hollowgasts turns out to be only one move in a larger game as Riggs (Tales of the Peculiar, 2016, etc.) shifts the scene to America.

Reading largely as a setup for a new (if not exactly original) story arc, the tale commences just after Jacob’s timely rescue from his decidedly hostile parents. Following aimless visits back to newly liberated Devil’s Acre and perfunctory normalling lessons for his magically talented friends, Jacob eventually sets out on a road trip to find and recruit Noor, a powerful but imperiled young peculiar of Asian Indian ancestry. Along the way he encounters a semilawless patchwork of peculiar gangs, syndicates, and isolated small communities—many at loggerheads, some in the midst of negotiating a tentative alliance with the Ymbryne Council, but all threatened by the shadowy Organization. The by-now-tangled skein of rivalries, romantic troubles, and family issues continues to ravel amid bursts of savage violence and low comedy (“I had never seen an invisible person throw up before,” Jacob writes, “and it was something I won’t soon forget”). A fresh set of found snapshots serves, as before, to add an eldritch atmosphere to each set of incidents. The cast defaults to white but includes several people of color with active roles.

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles. (Horror/Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3214-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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