Rushed worldbuilding and romance by peer pressure undercut any excitement the occasional battle might engender.

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MAGISTERIUM

What could have been an interesting exploration of the conflict between science and magic instead devolves into a choice based simply on who has the bigger bombs.

Sixteen-year-old Glenn is a genius computer engineer torn between the desire to travel into deep space and the need to care for her increasingly unstable father. Perhaps it’s this tantalizing beginning that creates such disjunction once this tale turns out to be just one more story of a chosen girl with an inborn destiny. It seems that the Rift that destroyed so much of Earth in the year 2023 wasn’t a natural phenomenon after all. Instead, deep in the Rift lies a magical land, the Magisterium. There, quelle surprise, Glenn learns she has a dark magical heritage. The land calls out for a savior, but whom can Glenn trust? While she deals with her own developing magical powers and the possible betrayal of Kevin, her best friend and erstwhile beau, Glenn fights in a sudden and fairly inexplicable war that has descended upon the Magisterium. In fantasyland, Glenn’s apparently genius-level skills at engineering lie undeveloped and unmentioned. Even her name changes, the “Glenn” (perhaps evoking astronaut John Glenn) replaced with the over-the-top fairy-tale name “Glennora Amantine.” “You’re a scientist,” Kevin tells Glenn. “Tell me you don’t want to understand....” Would that she did, but there’s no thoughtful consideration here.

Rushed worldbuilding and romance by peer pressure undercut any excitement the occasional battle might engender. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-29018-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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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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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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