A redemption story about loving both well and wisely that doesn’t coalesce.

WAKING ROMEO

Star-crossed lovers get a science-fiction spin in this time-travel tale.

It’s 2083, and having survived her attempted-suicide-by-knife, 18-year-old Juliet “Jules” Capulet is surly and scarred, unromantic but still reckless, while Romeo Montague remains in a coma. She and the other Settlers are squatting in a ruined London while the rest of humanity became Travelers, using pods to escape to the future. Meanwhile, Heathcliff Ellis is a Deadender, plucked from an imminent demise to save humanity and able to jump around in time. Tasked with waking Romeo and, circuitously, ensuring his own future/past, Ellis scrambles to save the reluctant Jules. Certainly not the first time-traveling or dystopian Shakespearean retelling, this melodrama delivers a grungy end-times aesthetic even as it suffers from shaky logic and repetition. Also wearisome is the gimmick that self-avowed Shakespeare-fan Jules is writing Romeo and Juliet to add to the classic canon. Barker crams in many quotes from across the Bard’s oeuvre, often without attribution and out of context; while readers who are ardent Shakespeare fans may recognize and appreciate them, for others it renders this futuristic tale unevenly archaic and disjointed. Romeo and Jules are cued as White; Ellis is black.

A redemption story about loving both well and wisely that doesn’t coalesce. (Science fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-17410-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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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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