Action, rich archaeological detail and respectfully levelheaded disability portrayal, refreshingly free from symbolism and...

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EARTH GIRL

A disabled teen archaeologist works in fascinating, hazardous conditions on a far-future Earth.

It’s 2789. Humanity lives on numerous planets. Transportation, including between star systems, merely requires stepping into a portal—even schoolchildren do a “mass off-world kiddie commute” daily. But off-world atmospheres are fatal for the rare babies born Handicapped, who are portalled to Earth within minutes and must stay forever. Parents tend to disappear, unwilling to live on Earth just to raise a “throwback.” Earth provides those on its Handicapped wards full care, education and career choice, but Jarra’s bitter that “exos” (non-Handicapped norms) consider her an “ape,” “the garbage of the universe.” Enrolling in a Pre-history course that’s taught on Earth but administered by an off-world university, Jarra plans to quench her thirst for history while teaching some exos a lesson. Terrific nitty-gritty details limn her team’s excavations of a high-risk dig site that was once Manhattan. Although readers won’t see disabilities they recognize, Edwards successfully shows that being physically unable to partake in society’s core structure equals disability. Jarra slides temporarily—implausibly—from matter-of-fact first-person narrator to a character in denial of her reality, but more important are perilous rescues, Jarra’s skills, a solar superstorm that closes portals and endangers hundreds of Military, and some humorous romance with sparkling chemistry.

Action, rich archaeological detail and respectfully levelheaded disability portrayal, refreshingly free from symbolism and magical cures, make this stand out. (Science fiction. 11-16)

Pub Date: March 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61614-765-5

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Pyr/Prometheus Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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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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