A lightly developed take on choice and the multiverse.

RICOCHET

Four teenagers living in parallel universes must unravel the mystery behind their existence.

When Californian Tati sent off a saliva sample for DNA testing as part of her high school ethnic studies project, she hoped she would learn more about her Russian birthparents. Instead Tati receives inconclusive results. Meanwhile, Ana—also in California and taking ethnic studies—gets nonhuman DNA results that stall her project’s progress. Tanya lives a sheltered life with her mother in Germany while in Russia, an isolated Tatyana lives with her famous scientist father. While circumstances vary for these four Tatiana/Tatyanas, one thing remains true for all of them: unexplained seizures (or me-zures, as Tati dubs them). These seizures, they discover, bring opportunities for them to meet and communicate. As turmoil infiltrates their four universes, it’s a race against time to figure out their shared history and stop the mastermind behind it. Berla (Beau & Bett, 2019, etc.) transitions from universe to universe in an often subtle flow. Readers will enjoy puzzling out how decisions big and small reverberate across the girls’ different lives. The stakes and the tension in the climax are low, however, as conflict buildup takes a back seat to backstory. The four main characters and most others are assumed white; Tati's Indian American girlfriend, Priya, is an exception, and her family is unfortunately portrayed in a two-dimensional and negatively stereotypical way.

A lightly developed take on choice and the multiverse. (Science fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63583-040-8

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Flux

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status.

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FIREKEEPER'S DAUGHTER

Testing the strength of family bonds is never easy—and lies make it even harder.

Daunis is trying to balance her two communities: The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, teen is constantly adapting, whether she is with her Anishinaabe father’s side of the family, the Firekeepers, or the Fontaines, her White mother’s wealthy relatives. She has grand plans for her future, as she wants to become a doctor, but has decided to defer her plans to go away for college because her maternal grandmother is recovering from a stroke. Daunis spends her free time playing hockey with her Firekeeper half brother, Levi, but tragedy strikes, and she discovers someone is selling a dangerous new form of meth—and the bodies are piling up. While trying to figure out who is behind this, Daunis pulls away from her family, covering up where she has been and what she has been doing. While dealing with tough topics like rape, drugs, racism, and death, this book balances the darkness with Ojibwe cultural texture and well-crafted characters. Daunis is a three-dimensional, realistically imperfect girl trying her best to handle everything happening around her. The first-person narration reveals her internal monologue, allowing readers to learn what’s going on in her head as she encounters anti-Indian bias and deals with grief.

A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76656-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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