A valiant effort that attempts to wrap up the series but overreaches its mark.

SPIKED

From the Spliced series , Vol. 3

Following soon after the events of Splintered (2019), this volume concludes the Spliced trilogy.

Jimi Corcoran once again finds herself embroiled in the conflict between chimeras—or modified people with animal DNA—and their allies and ultraconservatives who see chimeras as no longer human. This time, a militant chimera organization called CLAD is amping up the violence and may be responsible for recent terrorist acts. As the evil Howard Wells announces his bid for the U.S. presidency, Jimi and her boyfriend, Rex, try to discover who is behind CLAD. During their investigation, the teens discover that Wells has created a flu virus that will affect everyone who hasn’t inserted his Wellplant into their heads. The device is a souped-up smartphone connected to the wearer's brain. The themes of sentient technology, climate change, intense hatred for nonconforming people, and a scarily true-to-life pandemic often clutter a plot that moves forward at a jarring warp speed. Details from the Philadelphia setting center the story a bit, and the frankness about teens’ sexuality is refreshing. Gasp-inducing reveals and heart-rending deaths near the end come a little too late in the game. The final chapter ties up things so neatly that fans might come away underwhelmed. Minimal physical descriptions of nonchimera humans make racial diversity difficult to determine.

A valiant effort that attempts to wrap up the series but overreaches its mark. (Science fiction thriller. 14-adult)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4091-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A love letter to fans who will forgive (and even revel in) its excesses and indulgences.

MIDNIGHT SUN

From the Twilight series , Vol. 5

A long-awaited Twilight (2005) companion novel told from vampire Edward’s point of view.

Edward Cullen, a 104-year-old vampire (and eternal 17-year-old), finds his world turned upside down when new girl Bella Swan’s addictive scent drives a primal hunger, launching the classic story of vampire-meets-girl, vampire-wants-to-eat-girl, vampire-falls-in-love-with-girl. Edward’s broody inner monologue allows readers to follow every beat of his falling in love. The glacial pace and already familiar plot points mean that instead of surprise twists, characterization reigns. Meyer doesn’t shy away from making Edward far less sympathetic than Bella’s view of him (and his mind reading confirms that Bella’s view of him isn’t universal). Bella benefits from being seen without the curtain of self-deprecation from the original book, as Edward analyzes her every action for clues to her personality. The deeper, richer characterization of the leads comes at the expense of the secondary cast, who (with a few exceptions) alternate primarily along gender lines, between dimwitted buffoons and jealous mean girls. Once the vampiric threat from James’ storyline kicks off, vampire maneuvering and strategizing show off the interplay of the Cullens’ powers in a fresh way. After the action of the climax starts in earnest, though, it leans more into summary and monologue to get to the well-known ending. Aside from the Quileutes and the occasional background character, the cast defaults to White.

A love letter to fans who will forgive (and even revel in) its excesses and indulgences. (Paranormal romance. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-70704-6

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Sure to please fans of the author and of the vampire-romance genre.

THE BEAUTIFUL

From the Beautiful series , Vol. 1

Forbidden love is tested by suspicion and murder in this latest addition to YA vampire lore.

Celine Rousseau, a French and Asian (mother’s exact origins unknown) seamstress, sails from Europe to America in hopes of leaving her shadowy past behind. En route, she bonds with Pippa, a white English émigrée, and both girls find refuge in an Ursuline convent. Celine’s talent as a couturier leads to a commission from Odette, a beautiful member of the opulent-yet-mysterious Cour des Lions, where students of the occult practice their craft unmolested. Before long, Celine is swept up in a world of mystical forces centering around Sébastien Saint Germain, an enigmatic aristocrat to whom she is irresistibly attracted. When a fellow convent member is found murdered, Celine suspects all her acquaintances, including Sébastien. The novel, wading into the waters of forbidden romance between teenage girl and hunky immortal vampire previously navigated by Buffy Summers and Bella Swan, feels less magical than it should despite the lush Victorian-era New Orleans setting. At times the mounting attraction between Bastien and Celine is told rather than shown, which makes the central relationship feel forced rather than organic and passion filled. Ahdieh (Smoke in the Sun, 2018, etc.) brings New Orleans vibrantly to life, particularly when exploring the complicated racial and gender restrictions of high society through main and supporting characters of mixed-race origin.

Sure to please fans of the author and of the vampire-romance genre. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3817-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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