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MAGICAL BOY

VOLUME 1

A fast-paced magical story whose protagonist endures intense transphobia.

Descendant and heir to Aurora, the fallen Goddess of Light, a transgender boy reluctantly steps into his destiny of fighting monsters and guarding the world from an ancient evil.

Biracial (White and Japanese) Max has two secrets that only his best friend, Jen, knows—his gender identity and his power to see colorful auras of emotion around people. On his 16th birthday, Max decides to come out to his parents as trans, but before he can explain, his mother reveals his magical lineage and insists that he take up the mantle of the Goddess of Light and do his part to protect the world. Monsters that feed on negative energy are already attacking, so Max must quickly embrace his emerging abilities in order to prevent destruction. The plot revolves around the binary of lightness, standing for good, and darkness, representing evil. Max is frequently misgendered and referred to by his deadname, and his powers force him into frilly clothes that cause him dysphoria. Even his father, Kai, who doesn’t aggressively police his gender like his mother, Hikari, is little more than a bystander to the maternal abuse. The manga-style art is intensely expressive, but the page layouts are chaotic and sometimes hard to follow. Jen and Sean (an anime-style delinquent at Max’s school) are the only primary characters depicted with brown skin.

A fast-paced magical story whose protagonist endures intense transphobia. (Graphic fantasy. 12-17)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-77552-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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FIREBORNE

From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.

What happens to the world after the dust from a revolution has settled?

Friends Annie and Lee were children from very different circles when Atreus killed Lee’s father, dragonlord Leon Stormscourge, ending the uprising on the bloodiest day in Callipolis’ history. For too long the dragonriders held all the power while their people starved and lived in fear. Nine years later, a new generation of dragonriders is emerging, children selected and trained on merit, not bloodlines. Their dragons are finally mature enough for them to compete for Firstrider, a position of power that can give Lee back a small part of what his family lost. However, not only is Lee competing against Annie, but rumors are circulating that some of the royal family have survived and have dragons of their own. Everyone will have to make a choice: Restore the old regime, support the First Protector and the new caste system he created, or look for a new way, no matter what the cost. From the beginning, this book pulls readers in with political intrigue and action. What keeps them invested, however, are the complex relationships between many cast members. Choices are complex, and the consequences for all could be deadly. The world is well fleshed out and believable. Annie and Lee are light skinned; secondary characters are diverse, and race is a nonissue in this world.

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes. (author’s note) (Fantasy.14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51821-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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