Though heavy-handed, the thematic arc succeeds where the world still feels flimsy.

DARK STAR CALLING

From the Dark Intercept series , Vol. 3

New Earth faces non-Intercept threats in this trilogy closer.

In the year that has passed since Dark Mind Rising (2018), 19-year-old Violet Crowley has become president of the New Earth Senate, 18-year-old Steven “Rez” Reznik is the New Earth Science Authority director and chief technologist, doctor/artist Shura Lu leads government research efforts, and Kendall Mayhew serves as police chief, with deputy Tin Man. (Lest readers question such high ranks achieved at such tender ages, the text points out that New Earth President Ahmad Shabir is 24.) Rez’s calculations show deteriorations in New Earth’s orbit; while scanning the galaxy for a good star and exoplanet for eventual relocation, he detects a faraway signal originating from his dead sister’s Intercept chip. Another threat that the plucky band of heroes must contain is a nasty jumping virus, Graygrunge, which is just as deadly to people as it’s destructive to computers. While the primary storyline is about the signal, the driving narrative tension instead comes from the interpersonal dynamics of the core cast and the push-pull of emotion and reason—external threats are sparse, episodic, and quickly dealt with. At times, the thematic elements come out as long, preachy character monologues. Most characters are white; Shura is queer, and Rez is coded as neurodivergent. The ending only satisfies if one doesn’t think too long on logistics.

Though heavy-handed, the thematic arc succeeds where the world still feels flimsy. (Science fiction. 12-adut)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7653-8769-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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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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