A moving, thoughtful apprentice tale.

THE MAGICIAN'S APPRENTICE

Sixteen-year-old Baz’s coming-of-age journey exceeds all his expectations.

The traditional Middle Eastern village in which Baz lives offers no opportunity for advancement. His father is a skilled woodcarver, but that does not seem to be Baz’s destiny. He longs for anything that might bring adventure or even just an interesting break in the routine. After all, both of his brothers are learning trades far away. So when he is offered an apprenticeship, he is anxious to meet his future. There is an inevitable progression to Baz’s journey, not only in distances traveled, but in lessons learned. Each of his masters, whether kind or cruel, has something to teach him, but it is Tadis the magician who has the most impact on him. During their travels together, Baz is exposed to people of many skills and personalities, and he experiences natural phenomena ranging from desert storms to earthquakes. From all this he learns patience, concentration and empathy. Herein lies both the strength and weakness of the work. Banks’ lilting, soaring syntax and sympathetic characters and Sis’ intricate, exquisite little illustrations do not completely compensate for the overly mystical obscurity of Tadis’ nuggets of wisdom. Although everything turns out well for Baz, young readers may not really understand how it all came about.

A moving, thoughtful apprentice tale. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-374-34716-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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There’s violence and gore in profusion, cool gear, hot wheels, awesome feats, inner conflicts on both sides—all that’s...

STEELHEART

From the Steelheart series , Vol. 1

A straight-up Marvel Comics–style action drama featuring a small band of human assassins taking on costumed, superpowered supervillains with melodramatic monikers.

It’s certainly a tried-and-true formula. Twelve years ago, a mysterious Calamity began turning random ordinary humans into evil Epics gifted with various combinations of superpowers (and also, always, some Achilles heel). Now, 18-year-old David Charleston manages at last to make contact with a cell of Epic-killing Reckoners led by legendary mastermind Jon Phaedrus. Then it’s on to a nonstop thrill ride that begins with the killing of David’s father 10 years before and roars through car and motorcycle chases, secret missions, huge explosions and hails of gunfire with high-tech weaponry to a climactic battle with Epic Steelheart. He’s bulletproof, shoots energy balls, has transformed the entire Chicago area into solid steel with a wave of his hand and wears a stylish silver cape. Shockingly, the book closes with the stunning revelation than not all Epics are evil through and through. As further sign that Sanderson (Rithmatist, 2013, etc.) isn’t taking any of this too seriously, the cast of Epics includes not only the likes of Steelheart, Faultline and Deathpoint, but Pink Pinkness and El Brass Bullish Dude, and some of their powers are equally silly. Stay tuned for sequels.

There’s violence and gore in profusion, cool gear, hot wheels, awesome feats, inner conflicts on both sides—all that’s missing are the pictures. (Fantasy. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-385-74356-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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