Engaging—with reservations.

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BROKEN LANDS

From the Broken Lands series , Vol. 1

In post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested Texas, Gabriella “Gutsy” Gomez discovers the truth about her town while a group of teens in California embark on a dangerous road trip.

Gutsy hasn’t been able to grieve her mother’s death. Like everyone who dies, Mama turned into a zombie, but unlike everyone, she literally returns from the grave—twice. Bisexual Mexican-American Gutsy and her friends discover Mama’s isn’t the only desecrated grave, leading Gutsy on a quest to learn more. Meanwhile, in California, Asian-American teens Benny Imura and Lou Chong and white girls Nix and Lilah are bored until they learn the capital, Asheville, was attacked and they’ve lost contact with their colleague Capt. Ledger, who was traveling there. The four, plus two other teens, steal four-wheelers and head east. The narrative bounces among Gutsy, the sextet of teens, and Capt. Ledger, but fortunately the characters are mostly distinctive—quite a feat with such a large cast. As expected, all paths eventually converge for an explosive climax which ends on a cliffhanger. Racism plays a role in what Gutsy uncovers but, once revealed, bizarrely isn’t really mentioned again. Despite the effort to build an inclusive cast, the fetishizing of light skin and European features, an insensitive presentation of facial disfigurement, the use of “illegal” for undocumented people, and some questionable racial descriptors are problematic. Still, fans will meet new characters and reunite with old in this compelling read.

Engaging—with reservations. (Post-apocalyptic. 13-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0637-7

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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