A distinctive post-apocalyptic world stunted by clumsy writing and ambiguous worldbuilding.

FLASHFALL

Generations have passed since the cosmic event that formed the flash curtain, a toxic wall of deadly radiation. The remaining humans are scratching out a desperate survival in the hellish aftermath.

Sixteen-year-old Orion is a Subpar, a race of humans who have adapted to the radiation. Subpars now mine the land for the cirium needed to protect the city state of Alara, one of the last refuges for humanity. Despite her youth, Orion is the best miner. She and her partner, Dram, travel ever deeper into the mines, risking their lives to bring up enough ore to secure safe passage for themselves and their families through the radioactive curtain to freedom. But when a shuttle full of new cavers arrives, it brings with it a terrible truth. The promise of freedom is a lie. Subpars are far too valuable to be allowed to leave their posts. Though the premise of this novel has promise, it has too many credibility issues to succeed. The flash curtain and its resultant dangers are supported by frustratingly vague science, and the various human mutations, including a race bio-adapted to perform magic, are similarly undefined. The chaotic plot and one-dimensional characters further frustrate the fascinating premise. An open ending hints at a sequel. Orion and Dram both appear to be white, but this future is a multiracial one.

A distinctive post-apocalyptic world stunted by clumsy writing and ambiguous worldbuilding. (Science fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-481-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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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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