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An entertaining and promising beginning for a neo-retro spacefaring adventure series.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Latt’s YA SF novel chronicles the misadventures of a teenager who discovers—and claims—an abandoned space station in a remote corner of explored space.

In the far future, human Bevil Cyrex comes from a long line of Star Folk—families of space explorers who chose not to settle on planets and, for generations, have lived peacefully on massive ships as sovereign nations. While out on a mining mission by himself, Cyrex attempts to steal supplies from an unmanned Earth Alliance outpost. This bad decision is compounded when a pirate destroys his ship and tries to kill him. Cyrex barely escapes with his life, but after taking the pirate’s craft, he realizes it’s preprogrammed with a deadly security feature: Without a code, the vessel will travel into deep space until its power runs out—and the interloper is dead. Cyrex’s life is spared, however, when the ship dies near an ancient space station. Once inside the massive structure, he realizes the entire place is in immaculate condition. When he meets a sentient nanite swarm that’s been the station’s caretaker for centuries—and that takes the form of his grandmother Nan—his view of the universe, and its inhabitants, is irrevocably changed. One of this novel’s greatest strengths is its strong and steady narrative focus. Latt’s writing is purposeful, the pacing relentless, and the action virtually nonstop; it all has the glorious sense of wonder associated with golden-age SF. Cyrex is insightfully portrayed as a young man trying to find his place in the universe, and the supporting characters are all brilliantly developed—particularly Nan, an artificial intelligence that’s learning, sometimes quite humorously, what it means to be human. Bombshell plot twists abound as Cyrex and company struggle to open the space station and stay alive as pirates and Alliance military eye the structure as a potential base.

An entertaining and promising beginning for a neo-retro spacefaring adventure series.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 9798986331508

Page Count: 360

Publisher: The Chapel Perilous

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023


An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021


From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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