A promising start that gets more right than wrong.

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From the Children of Eden series , Vol. 1

A teenage girl finds her way through a dystopian society.

In this far-flung future, the world’s environment has collapsed, and the remains of humanity live in Eden, a walled-off society built by the brilliant Aaron Al-Baz, an environmental prophet. Bronze-skinned Rowan is the second-born to her twin brother, Ash, which makes her a major liability. Families are only allowed to have one child, so Rowan’s existence has been carefully hidden all her life. After Rowan’s mother tells her they’ve made arrangements for her to go live with another family, Rowan sneaks out at night and meets Lark, Ash’s best friend. The two girls strike a friendship that kindles toward romance, but before the fire can spread, Rowan’s existence is discovered and the terrified teen flees. Rowan discovers a band of rebels and uncovers a startling truth about Al-Baz. The tropes of the teen dystopia abound, but Graceffa keeps things moving quickly enough that readers won’t mind. Rowan could easily become a navel-gazer, but the story keeps her from descending into insularity. After an intrusively expository start, Rowan’s journey from loner to rebel is smartly paced and cleverly constructed. Her love interests are less developed, and the aftertaste of Eden has a bit of a “been there, done that” feel, but the author injects just enough original thought and spins the yarn fast enough that readers will still have a good time.

A promising start that gets more right than wrong. (Science fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-4655-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Atria/Key Words

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2016

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes


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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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.


Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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