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BURIED HEART

From the Court of Fives series , Vol. 3

High-fantasy series rarely attract serious literary scrutiny, yet when done well—as here—no genre is better fitted to trace...

As infighting grips Efea’s Saroese royalty, its neighbors move to invade their weakened adversary; unable to dissuade her Patron father and sweetheart Kal from defending the corrupt regime, Jes sides with her mother’s people, native Efeans now reclaiming their land.

The rift between her parents has widened, but both disapprove of Jes’ relationship with Kal, and their fears are heightened when he reluctantly takes the throne. In this rigid ethnocracy, biracial Jes is considered a “mule” by contemptuous Patrons, a traitor by resentful Commoners. Kal’s go-slow plans to raise Commoner standing anger Jes—she knows it’s too late for small steps. Leaving Kal, she’s kidnapped, badly injured, and sent to the desert, where Efeans and criminals of both castes mine ore under brutal conditions. Plotting their escape keeps her alive. Their Saroese overlords won’t voluntarily abandon caste and privilege; to reclaim their decentralized, matriarchal society, Efeans must fight. Gifted with her mother’s patience and father’s military prowess, Jes proves an exceptional leader. Sustaining the Patron aristocracy exacts a high price—but so do the sacrifice and compromises required to overthrow it. Magic and religion, patriarchy versus matriarchy, hierarchical versus decentralized government; these themes are all seamlessly integrated into the action-packed plot.

High-fantasy series rarely attract serious literary scrutiny, yet when done well—as here—no genre is better fitted to trace the threads of history from past to present and explore the fascinating patterns they weave. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-34441-8

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2017

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THE FIELD GUIDE TO THE NORTH AMERICAN TEENAGER

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice.

A teenage, not-so-lonely loner endures the wilds of high school in Austin, Texas.

Norris Kaplan, the protagonist of Philippe’s debut novel, is a hypersweaty, uber-snarky black, Haitian, French-Canadian pushing to survive life in his new school. His professor mom’s new tenure-track job transplants Norris mid–school year, and his biting wit and sarcasm are exposed through his cataloging of his new world in a field guide–style burn book. He’s greeted in his new life by an assortment of acquaintances, Liam, who is white and struggling with depression; Maddie, a self-sacrificing white cheerleader with a heart of gold; and Aarti, his Indian-American love interest who offers connection. Norris’ ego, fueled by his insecurities, often gets in the way of meaningful character development. The scenes showcasing his emotional growth are too brief and, despite foreshadowing, the climax falls flat because he still gets incredible personal access to people he’s hurt. A scene where Norris is confronted by his mother for getting drunk and belligerent with a white cop is diluted by his refusal or inability to grasp the severity of the situation and the resultant minor consequences. The humor is spot-on, as is the representation of the black diaspora; the opportunity for broader conversations about other topics is there, however, the uneven buildup of detailed, meaningful exchanges and the glibness of Norris’ voice detract.

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-282411-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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OUT OF CHARACTER

Despite the well-meaning warmth, a wearying plod.

Can a 17-year-old with her first girlfriend prevent real-life folks from discovering her online fandoms?

Cass is proudly queer, happily fat, and extremely secretive about being a fan who role-plays on Discord. Back in middle school, she had what she calls a gaming addiction, playing “The Sims” so much her parents had to take the game away. Now, turning to her role-play friends to cope with her fighting parents, she worries that people will judge her for her fannishness and online life. To be fair, her grades are suffering. And sure, maybe she’s missed a college application deadline. Also, her mom has suddenly left Minneapolis and moved to Maine to be with a man she met online. But on the other hand, Cass is finally dating her amazingly cute longtime crush, Taylor. Pansexual Taylor is a gamer, a little bit punk, White like Cass, and so, so great—but she still can’t help comparing her to Rowan, Cass’ online best friend and role-playing ship partner. But Rowan doesn’t want to be a dirty little secret and doesn’t see why Cass can’t be honest about this part of her life. The inevitable train wreck of her lies looms on the horizon for months in an overlong morality play building to the climax that includes tidy resolutions to all the character arcs that are quite heartwarming but, in the case of Cass’ estranged mother, narratively unearned.

Despite the well-meaning warmth, a wearying plod. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-06-324332-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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