THE YOUNG INFERNO

“In the middle of my childhood wonder / I woke to find myself in a forest / that was—how shall I put it—wild and sombre.” Using Dante’s Inferno as his model, Agard sends a teenage narrator on a tour of Hell, squired by a fable-spouting Aesop rather than Virgil and encountering not only Charon, Mammon and their traditional like but Einstein and the Furies, here pictured as a street gang. Despite Kitamura’s jagged, smudgy black-and-white figures (some of which will be recognizable to contemporary readers), the trek never acquires much emotional or poetic intensity as, unlike Dante, the author seldom names names, finishes up in an abbreviated 13 Cantos and skips over any mention of Lucifer. He also closes by having the narrator hook up with Beatrice (billed by Aesop with a wink as “The Good Fairy”) in the library: “I danced in the chemistry of her eyes / and I could have chilled out there for ever.” Steer readers who can’t face the original to Marcus Sanders and Sandow Birk’s weirdly campy but grand illustrated rendition, Dante’s Divine Comedy (2004). (Poetry. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-84507-769-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2009

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CLOCKWORK ANGEL

From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 1

A century before the events of Clare’s Mortal Instruments trilogy, another everyday heroine gets entangled with demon-slaying Shadowhunters. Sixteen-year-old orphaned Tessa comes to London to join her brother but is imprisoned by the grotesque Dark Sisters. The sisters train the unwilling Tessa in previously unknown shapeshifter abilities, preparing her to be a pawn in some diabolical plan. A timely rescue brings Tessa to the Institute, where a group of misfit Shadowhunters struggles to fight evil. Though details differ, the general flavor of Tessa’s new family will be enjoyably familiar to the earlier trilogy’s fans; the most important is Tessa’s rescuer Will, the gorgeous, sharp-tongued teenager with a mysterious past and a smile like “Lucifer might have smiled, moments before he fell from Heaven.” The lush, melodramatic urban fantasy setting of the Shadowhunter world morphs seamlessly into a steampunk Victorian past, and this new series provides the setup for what will surely be a climactic battle against hordes of demonically powered brass clockworks. The tale drags in places, but this crowdpleaser’s tension-filled conclusion ratchets toward a new set of mysteries. (Steampunk. 13-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7586-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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

LEGEND

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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