DARKFALL

From the Healing Wars series , Vol. 3

In this final installment of The Healing Wars series, warrior Nya desperately searches for her missing sister while fighting to preserve her heritage even as the Duke of Baseer prepares to invade Geveg.

Fifteen-year-old Nya, her sweetheart Danello and compatriots in the underground resistance hide on a farm after Nya destroys the Duke’s palace in Baseer by flashing pain. Notorious for her unique ability to shift and push pain, Nya secretly returns to Geveg hoping to find her sister, Tali. When a corps of Undying, the Duke’s mindless soldiers trained to endure and inflict pain, attack Nya, Tali is among them. Devastated to discover her alien, brainwashed sister, Nya fears Tali will never be the same. With the Duke’s forces approaching, Nya’s reputation as a fighter rallies Geveg’s embattled citizens, who embrace her as the leader they desperately need. Tempted to take Tali and flee, Nya can’t deny her heritage and, with help from her friends and allies, reluctantly prepares to defend her city. A conflicted, complex heroine to the end, Nya anguishes over the potential pain and death she will trigger to preserve what she loves. Though lacking some of the punch and rapid-fire excitement of the first two volumes, the finale offers suspense, resolution of prior wrongs, the sweetness of first love and a battle-tested heroine who fights with her head and heart. (Fantasy. 10-16)

 

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-174750-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice.

THE FIELD GUIDE TO THE NORTH AMERICAN TEENAGER

A teenage, not-so-lonely loner endures the wilds of high school in Austin, Texas.

Norris Kaplan, the protagonist of Philippe’s debut novel, is a hypersweaty, uber-snarky black, Haitian, French-Canadian pushing to survive life in his new school. His professor mom’s new tenure-track job transplants Norris mid–school year, and his biting wit and sarcasm are exposed through his cataloging of his new world in a field guide–style burn book. He’s greeted in his new life by an assortment of acquaintances, Liam, who is white and struggling with depression; Maddie, a self-sacrificing white cheerleader with a heart of gold; and Aarti, his Indian-American love interest who offers connection. Norris’ ego, fueled by his insecurities, often gets in the way of meaningful character development. The scenes showcasing his emotional growth are too brief and, despite foreshadowing, the climax falls flat because he still gets incredible personal access to people he’s hurt. A scene where Norris is confronted by his mother for getting drunk and belligerent with a white cop is diluted by his refusal or inability to grasp the severity of the situation and the resultant minor consequences. The humor is spot-on, as is the representation of the black diaspora; the opportunity for broader conversations about other topics is there, however, the uneven buildup of detailed, meaningful exchanges and the glibness of Norris’ voice detract.

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-282411-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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