The checklist of what makes commercial teen dystopias may be complete here, but the clumsy writing and nonexistent...

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THE WARD

A society built atop a catastrophe-stricken United States of America, a feisty heroine torn between guys, an evil government—stop us if you’ve read this already.

Frankel’s debut posits a scientifically implausible future in which the Wash Out has transformed New York City and New Jersey into the United Metro Islets. Manhattan is several stories underwater—boardwalks, suspension bridges and amphibious vehicles stand in lieu of streets—and under quarantine due to the Blight, a contagious, cancerlike and always fatal disease. Orphaned drag racer Ren is 5 feet of sexy trouble: Under duress, she works for the police state searching for “fresh” (water) and spends her earnings on her Blight-stricken “sister” Aven, whom she met in an orphanage (a relationship much described but never brought to life). When she finds fresh with amazing healing powers, she lands in the middle of a centuries-old battle over Minetta Brook, currently playing out between the governor and ancient Lenape guardians. Ren must fight both sides if she wants to save herself, Aven and the hundreds of sick people in the Ward, all while dreaming about more-than-meets-the-eye Derek and fighting the first hints of attraction to brainy Callum.

The checklist of what makes commercial teen dystopias may be complete here, but the clumsy writing and nonexistent worldbuilding prevent this subpar clone from making a splash . (Dystopian romance. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 30, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-209534-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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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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Witty and funny, with well-rounded characters who face complex inner moral issues.

HOUSE OF DRAGONS

From the House of Dragons series , Vol. 1

In a world dominated by order, chaos threatens to upend tradition when unlikely competitors are chosen to fight for the throne.

Emperor Erasmus is dead, leaving the Great Dragon to decide the future of the Etrusian Empire. Traditionally, the oldest child from each of the five Houses and his or her dragon compete for the throne. However, this time outsiders are called to compete: Chara and her rider, Emilia, youngest daughter of House Aurun, who holds the magic of chaos; Tyche and her rider, Lucian, reformed warrior of House Sabel; Karina and her rider, Vespir, the lowborn, lesbian servant girl and dragon handler of House Pentri; Dog and his rider, Ajax, the wily illegitimate son of House Tiber; and Minerva and her rider, Julia, who are challenged by Hyperia, who believes the throne is her birthright, and her feral dragon, Aufidius. During the stages of the Emperor’s Trial—the Hunt, the Game, the Race, and the Truth—each competitor faces their own personal weaknesses. Multiple perspectives create depth in this complex fantasy world with flawed human characters who have murder, destruction, thievery, and cowardice in their backgrounds. Cluess’ dragons have unique personalities and voices of their own, becoming as central to the story as their human riders. Most characters are cued as white; blonde hair and blue eyes are valorized. Vespir’s lesbian identity is neatly and naturally woven into her character.

Witty and funny, with well-rounded characters who face complex inner moral issues. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-64815-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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