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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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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

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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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