Those who stick around for this slow ride will be left eager to know how events play out.

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DARK OF THE WEST

From the Glass Alliance series , Vol. 1

Fantasy without magic, historical fiction without facts: Hathaway’s debut defies classification.

In a fantasy world featuring early-20th century technology, royals descended from one common ancestor rule the North—except for a new nation under the dictatorship of Gen. Dakar—while the South descends into chaos. This world includes military women and brown-skinned royals, although both remain exceptions. White Athan, the general’s youngest son, is a reluctant military pilot; he just wants to run away and fly his beloved planes in peace. Biracial, brown-skinned Aurelia is a Northern princess with a Southern mother who loves horses, dreams of a university education, and believes she is superior for being royal. When the two finally meet as part of a fact-finding mission, sparks fly, although the prologue warns that their Romeo and Juliet–style romance is probably doomed. The politics are subtle and complex, even if the characters sometimes are not, and everyone lies, leaving readers confused. This is a novel about ambition and war, occasionally drowning in details, and much of this series opener sets up the world, with the bulk of the action crammed into the final chapters. Grief and the horrors of war loom larger than the romance, although the love letters are swoon-y.

Those who stick around for this slow ride will be left eager to know how events play out. (map) (Fantasy. 13-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7653-9641-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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