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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A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary,...

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THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE

The pitiless dictatorship of Francisco Franco examined through the voices of four teenagers: one American and three Spaniards.

The Spanish Civil War lasted from 1936-1939, but Franco held Spain by its throat for 36 years. Sepetys (Salt to the Sea, 2016, etc.) begins her novel in 1957. Daniel is a white Texan who wants to be a photojournalist, not an oilman; Ana is trying to work her way to respectability as a hotel maid; her brother, Rafael, wants to erase memories of an oppressive boys’ home; and Puri is a loving caregiver for babies awaiting adoption—together they provide alternating third-person lenses for viewing Spain during one of its most brutally repressive periods. Their lives run parallel and intersect as each tries to answer questions about truth and the path ahead within a regime that crushes any opposition, murders dissidents, and punishes their families while stealing babies to sell to parents with accepted political views. This formidable story will haunt those who ask hard questions about the past as it reveals the hopes and dreams of individuals in a nation trying to lie its way to the future. Meticulous research is presented through believable, complex characters on the brink of adulthood who personalize the questions we all must answer about our place in the world. 

A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary, photographs) (Historical fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-16031-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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