THE EXPLOSIONIST

Adult novelist and scholarly author Davidson crafts a YA alternate-history/murder-mystery romp—and mostly pulls it off. In a world in which Napoleon won Waterloo, it’s 1939 and the Federated States of Europe and the New Hanseatic League have concluded one war but may be poised for another. Sixteen-year-old Sophie finds herself in the midst of political intrigue after a medium delivers a cryptic message and then turns up dead. The medium’s death is just the start: IRYLNS, founded by Sophie’s great-aunt and guardian, transforms girls into perfect secretaries via a sinister process; Sophie’s chemistry teacher may be masterminding suicide bombers; and spirits seem set on communication. The world-building sometimes falters and thinking too hard about the changes may confuse readers (how did Freud become a radio personality, and why is he fixated on Daedalus?), but despite the flaws, who can resist a spunky heroine, political machinations and a disembodied Alfred Nobel? Readers willing to dive in will be eager for the sequel. (author’s note) (Fantasy/alternate history. 13 & up)

Pub Date: July 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-06-123975-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An optimistic, sophisticated portrayal of one facet of Chinese American—and simply American—history.

THE DOWNSTAIRS GIRL

Jo Kuan leads a double life: a public role as a quiet lady’s maid and a secret one as the voice behind the hottest advice column in 1890 Atlanta.

Chinese American Jo is mostly invisible except for occasional looks of disdain and derisive comments, and she doesn’t mind: Her priority is making sure she and her adoptive father, Chinese immigrant Old Gin, remain safe in their abandoned abolitionists’ hideaway beneath a print shop. But even if she lives on the margins, Jo has opinions of her own which she shares in her newspaper advice column under the byline “Miss Sweetie.” Suddenly all of Atlanta is talking about her ideas, though they don’t know that the witty advice on relationships, millinery, and horse races comes from a Chinese girl. As curiosity about Miss Sweetie mounts, Jo may not be able to stay hidden much longer. And as she learns more about the blurred lines and the hard truths about race in her city and her own past, maybe she doesn’t want to. In her latest work, Lee (The Secret of a Heart Note, 2016, etc.) continues to demonstrate that Chinese people were present—and had a voice—in American history. She deftly weaves historical details with Jo’s personal story of finding a voice and a place for herself in order to create a single, luminous work.

An optimistic, sophisticated portrayal of one facet of Chinese American—and simply American—history. (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4095-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A must-read with a conclusion that will leave readers craving more.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2020

  • New York Times Bestseller

THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS

A monster spreads madness through the streets of Shanghai.

It is the autumn of 1926, and Shanghai is poised at the brink of transformation. Foreign powers have carved out portions of the city for themselves; what remains is divided between two feuding gangs, the Chinese Scarlet Gang and the Russian White Flowers. Eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai has returned home from New York City, wreathed in a reputation for ruthlessness and ready to step into her role as heir to the Scarlet Gang. Four years ago, a betrayal by the White Flowers heir, Roma Montagov, a young man of 19, led to the deaths of countless Scarlets, and Juliette is determined to avenge her gang. But when a lethal contagion strikes the city, targeting Scarlets and White Flowers alike, Juliette and Roma grudgingly agree to cooperate on an investigation in order to save their city. The slow-burning romance in this book takes a back seat to the gripping mystery grounded in immersive historical detail. Allusions to Romeo and Juliet are evident in names and specific scenes, but familiar themes of family, loyalty, and identity bear new significance in Gong’s inventive adaptation. Language is a tool wielded deftly by the multilingual characters, who switch easily among English, French, Shanghainese, Russian, and more, with Mandarin as the primary dialect for Chinese phrases. A strong supporting cast that includes a trans girl completes this striking debut.

A must-read with a conclusion that will leave readers craving more. (Historical fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5769-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more