An affecting and unforgettable SF series with heart.

RISE UP

From the Last Pick series , Vol. 3

In this trilogy closer, a group of teens fights their final battle against intergalactic foes.

Picking up where Born To Run (2019) left off with its nail-biting cliffhanger, siblings Samantha and Wyatt Erickson are trying to find each other across vast galaxies. Sam and girlfriend Mia escape from an interstellar prison while Wyatt and friend Adiva fly across the cosmos to save them. Sam believes her parents are alive and presumes to have found the prison where inmates are forced to fight in an alien civil war. The maliciously evil extraterrestrial known as the Sheriff, now sick with a mutating virus, is in close pursuit of the Ericksons. As the tension ratchets up with a ferocious intensity, they face off for the ultimate battle, which both profoundly thrills and devastates with its bittersweet conclusion. Walz’s series has been consistently fantastic, with its inclusive worldbuilding and electrifying pacing coupled with dazzling, cinematically styled art. Throughout the series, the characters have explored what it means to be labeled “useless,” affirming the intrinsic value of those considered lesser for being different by small-minded bigots (in this case, virulent, war-hungry aliens). The team that saves the day encompasses a broad spectrum of identities: Sam, neurodiverse Wyatt, and Harper, Wyatt’s Deaf girlfriend, present White; Mia is cued as Latinx; and Adiva is a brown-skinned, hijabi Muslim girl from the U.S. South.

An affecting and unforgettable SF series with heart. (Graphic science fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62672-895-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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In the end, it’s just another violent dystopian series opener for all its yellow-brick veneer, but it’s a whole lot more fun...

DOROTHY MUST DIE

When a cyclone deposits a 21st-century Kansas teen in Oz, she and readers discover there’ve been some changes made.

Dirt-poor “Salvation Amy” Gumm lives in a trailer park, effectively parenting her alcoholic mom (her dad ran off years ago), who seems to care more about her pet rat, Star, than her daughter. That doesn’t mean Amy is eager to be in Oz, particularly this Oz. Tyrannized by a megalomaniacal Dorothy and mined of its magic, it’s a dystopian distortion of the paradise Baum and MGM depicted. In short order, Amy breaks the wholly capricious laws and is thrown into a cell in the Emerald City with only Star for company. There, she’s visited first by the mysterious but sympathetic Pete and then by the witch Mombi, who breaks her out and takes her to the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked (among whom is the very hot Nox). Amy may well be the salvation of Oz—only someone from the Other Place can take Dorothy down. Paige has clearly had the time of her life with this reboot, taking a dystopian-romance template and laying it over Oz. Readers of Baum’s books will take special delight in seeing new twists on the old characters, and they will greet the surprise climactic turnabout with the smugness of insiders.

In the end, it’s just another violent dystopian series opener for all its yellow-brick veneer, but it’s a whole lot more fun than many of its ilk. (Dystopian fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-228067-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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