ELITES OF EDEN

From the Children of Eden series , Vol. 2

A cunningly charted sequel that improves on its predecessor.

A young member of the elite class in a dystopian future discovers her destiny in this sequel to Children of Eden (2016).

Bronze-skinned Yarrow is the teenage daughter of one of the most powerful women in Eden. At the exclusive Oaks boarding school, Yarrow rolls with the cool kids, submissive only to the queen bee, Pearl. When mysterious, lilac-haired Lark joins Yarrow’s class, the two girls feel drawn to each other, and as Lark’s secrets are revealed, Yarrow discovers her own true path. This discovery is the smartly conceived and perfectly executed twist that puts this sequel over the top. The standard teen-dystopian tropes remain, but the author uses readers’ familiarity with overreaching governments and shady rebel bases to his advantage, structuring Yarrow’s arc as a journey that examines heretofore unseen aspects of Eden’s culture and dovetailing with the first book’s narrative thrust. The love interests remain spottily developed, but the sexual fluidity baked into this love triangle makes for a refreshing change from the usual two hunks pining for one gal. The novel’s climax points toward an intriguing path for Book 3 to take but still provides readers with a sense of closure. The early pages are a tad rough: Yarrow is deeply unpleasant and Pearl is a pill, but once readers get past the Mean Girls–esque surface there’s plenty of reward.

A cunningly charted sequel that improves on its predecessor. (Science fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7453-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atria/Key Words

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

OUT OF CHARACTER

Despite the well-meaning warmth, a wearying plod.

Can a 17-year-old with her first girlfriend prevent real-life folks from discovering her online fandoms?

Cass is proudly queer, happily fat, and extremely secretive about being a fan who role-plays on Discord. Back in middle school, she had what she calls a gaming addiction, playing “The Sims” so much her parents had to take the game away. Now, turning to her role-play friends to cope with her fighting parents, she worries that people will judge her for her fannishness and online life. To be fair, her grades are suffering. And sure, maybe she’s missed a college application deadline. Also, her mom has suddenly left Minneapolis and moved to Maine to be with a man she met online. But on the other hand, Cass is finally dating her amazingly cute longtime crush, Taylor. Pansexual Taylor is a gamer, a little bit punk, White like Cass, and so, so great—but she still can’t help comparing her to Rowan, Cass’ online best friend and role-playing ship partner. But Rowan doesn’t want to be a dirty little secret and doesn’t see why Cass can’t be honest about this part of her life. The inevitable train wreck of her lies looms on the horizon for months in an overlong morality play building to the climax that includes tidy resolutions to all the character arcs that are quite heartwarming but, in the case of Cass’ estranged mother, narratively unearned.

Despite the well-meaning warmth, a wearying plod. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-06-324332-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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