An entertaining duology closer.

SENSATIONAL

From the Spectacle-Zdrok series , Vol. 2

Eighteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin must once again use her unusual powers to unmask a killer in Zdrok’s follow-up to 2019’s Spectacle.

It’s 1889, two years since Nathalie, a morgue reporter for Le Petit Journal, learned that she could envision the last moments of a murder victim’s life by touching either the viewing pane in front of the body or the body itself. These powers resulted from blood transfusions by a controversial doctor, and the “gifts” conferred are different for each person, or Insightful. Nathalie’s gift is gruesome, but she enjoys working for police liaison Christophe as an Insightful adviser to help solve murder cases. Outside of work, Nathalie loves exploring the world showcases of the Exposition Universelle with her beau, Jules, also an Insightful, and her best friend, Simone, and her young man, Louis. When they stumble upon a severed head on a pedestal, they soon realize it’s only the beginning for a killer with a flair for the dramatic. The mystery takes a back seat to Nathalie’s personal growth as she struggles with her gift—which has its drawbacks—properly mourns for a friend, and weathers her institutionalized aunt’s decline. All main characters are white, but diversity can be found at the Exposition Universelle. The mystery is thin, but readers will enjoy exploring fin de siècle Paris with Nathalie and her spirited friends while they attempt to suss out a vicious killer.

An entertaining duology closer. (Paranormal historical thriller. 15-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7653-9971-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Only marginally intriguing.

REDEMPTION PREP

In a remote part of Utah, in a “temple of excellence,” the best of the best are recruited to nurture their talents.

Redemption Preparatory is a cross between the Vatican and a top-secret research facility: The school is rooted in Christian ideology (but very few students are Christian), Mass is compulsory, cameras capture everything, and “maintenance” workers carry Tasers. When talented poet Emma disappears, three students, distrusting of the school administration, launch their own investigation. Brilliant chemist Neesha believes Emma has run away to avoid taking the heat for the duo’s illegal drug enterprise. Her boyfriend, an athlete called Aiden, naturally wants to find her. Evan, a chess prodigy who relies on patterns and has difficulty processing social signals, believes he knows Emma better than anyone. While the school is an insidious character on its own and the big reveal is slightly psychologically disturbing, Evan’s positioning as a tragic hero with an uncertain fate—which is connected to his stalking of Emma (even before her disappearance)—is far more unsettling. The ’90s setting provides the backdrop for tongue-in-cheek technological references but doesn’t do anything for the plot. Student testimonials and voice-to-text transcripts punctuate the three-way third-person narration that alternates among Neesha, Evan, and Aiden. Emma, Aiden, and Evan are assumed to be white; Neesha is Indian. Students are from all over the world, including Asia and the Middle East.

Only marginally intriguing. (Mystery. 15-18)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266203-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Perhaps a more genuinely enlightened protagonist would have made this debut more engaging

STALKING JACK THE RIPPER

Audrey Rose Wadsworth, 17, would rather perform autopsies in her uncle’s dark laboratory than find a suitable husband, as is the socially acceptable rite of passage for a young, white British lady in the late 1800s.

The story immediately brings Audrey into a fractious pairing with her uncle’s young assistant, Thomas Cresswell. The two engage in predictable rounds of “I’m smarter than you are” banter, while Audrey’s older brother, Nathaniel, taunts her for being a girl out of her place. Horrific murders of prostitutes whose identities point to associations with the Wadsworth estate prompt Audrey to start her own investigation, with Thomas as her sidekick. Audrey’s narration is both ponderous and polemical, as she sees her pursuit of her goals and this investigation as part of a crusade for women. She declares that the slain aren’t merely prostitutes but “daughters and wives and mothers,” but she’s also made it a point to deny any alignment with the profiled victims: “I am not going as a prostitute. I am simply blending in.” Audrey also expresses a narrow view of her desired gender role, asserting that “I was determined to be both pretty and fierce,” as if to say that physical beauty and liking “girly” things are integral to feminism. The graphic descriptions of mutilated women don’t do much to speed the pace.

Perhaps a more genuinely enlightened protagonist would have made this debut more engaging . (Historical thriller. 15-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-27349-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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