A deeply imaginative but disjointed adventure story that feels too much like an extended prologue.

THE TWISTY PASSAGES OF TIME

BOOK 1: VEER LEFT FOR HOME

A young boy uncovers strange secrets about his family and a massive conflict a world away in Loveridge’s debut YA SF novel.

Ever since the sudden death of his sister Mariam, Liam Fennly has been plagued by strange nightmares and escalating harassment from his neighbors, the cruel Farnsworth brothers. However, on the eve of his 12th birthday, Liam receives a clue that his sister’s death is not quite what it seems, and neither is the newly opened Alfred Quentin Elementary. Quentin, thought to be dead since 1927, suddenly arrives to induct Liam into the Foundation Program, the first step of a mysterious birthright. It turns out that the Fennlys, along with many other families, are the latest generation of a prehistoric colony of time refugees. While fleeing an enemy called the Rashaar, they stumbled upon a portal connecting them to the present day, and ever since, they’ve raised their children in the safety of the modern world before revealing their true nature to them. Now Liam must learn to control the colonists’ superadvanced technology, how to wrangle a pet dinosaur, and keep all of this a secret from his friends and neighbors—while also avoiding his bullies at school. He also wonders: Who exactly are the Rashaar and why are his parents so worried about them? And what really happened to Mariam? Loveridge’s introductory novel to his series of time-traveling adventures has no shortage of creativity, as it brims with near-magical tech, supernatural elements, and a sprawling alternate version of Earth’s history. The quality of the writing is solid and allows readers to empathize with the characters, who are often likable. However, the book’s weak link is its pacing, as the plot meanders and the author obfuscates much of the basic premise of the tale for far too long. Liam’s struggle with bullies also feels disconnected from the rest of his journey, making it feel more like a tangent than a narrative throughline. In the end, the novel seems to defer major elements of its story for future installments, resulting in an overall lack of cohesion.

A deeply imaginative but disjointed adventure story that feels too much like an extended prologue.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73555-724-3

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Glass Spider Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2021

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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