Uncompromisingly brutal and black hole–dense; howls to a niche audience.

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DOGCHILD

The Call of the Wild meets Mad Max in this blood-soaked, nihilistic thriller.

Brooks’ latest follows a traumatized protagonist struggling to find the right words amid copious casualty and senseless causality. The apocalypse has come and gone; the surviving world consists of two enclaves—that of the enemy Dau and the town, a walled, seaside citadel—and a no man’s land populated by wild dogs. Born to teenage parents on a wagon trail, captured and raised by a dog pack, and rehumanized by his uncle, first-person narrator Jeet has always struggled to resolve his dogchild double consciousness: His is a canine soul in a human body. Gun Sur, the town’s authoritarian Marshal, charges Jeet with recording the entirety of known history prior to a pending battle. When Chola Se, another dogchild, is abducted, delivered to the Dau, and brutalized by Pilgrim (Gun Sur’s second-in-command) upon her return, the dogchildren must untangle the Gordian knot of her ordeal, sorting out multiple murders, double- and triple-crossings, and the inconceivable contours of the looming showdown. Racial signifiers are limited to skin tone; Jeet has brown skin, and many character names evoke a South Asian feel. Jeet’s unconventional prose, lacking quotation marks, eschewing apostrophes, and employing novel compound words such as “Ime” and “weare,” eventually wears smooth. Chola Se’s gang rapes followed by a questionable consensual sex scene feel like a plot device for inflating the stakes, troubling an otherwise egalitarian tale.

Uncompromisingly brutal and black hole–dense; howls to a niche audience. (Survival thriller. 15-18)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0974-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing.

THE STARS WE STEAL

For the second time in her life, Leo must choose between her family and true love.

Nineteen-year-old Princess Leonie Kolburg’s royal family is bankrupt. In order to salvage the fortune they accrued before humans fled the frozen Earth 170 years ago, Leonie’s father is forcing her to participate in the Valg Season, an elaborate set of matchmaking events held to facilitate the marriages of rich and royal teens. Leo grudgingly joins in even though she has other ideas: She’s invented a water filtration system that, if patented, could provide a steady income—that is if Leo’s calculating Aunt Freja, the Captain of the ship hosting the festivities, stops blocking her at every turn. Just as Leo is about to give up hope, her long-lost love, Elliot, suddenly appears onboard three years after Leo’s family forced her to break off their engagement. Donne (Brightly Burning, 2018) returns to space, this time examining the fascinatingly twisted world of the rich and famous. Leo and her peers are nuanced, deeply felt, and diverse in terms of sexuality but not race, which may be a function of the realities of wealth and power. The plot is fast paced although somewhat uneven: Most of the action resolves in the last quarter of the book, which makes the resolutions to drawn-out conflicts feel rushed.

A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing. (Science fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-94894-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A slasher flick spliced with Crime and Punishment, this engrossing debut novel asks complex philosophical questions in a...

NOT EVEN BONES

From the Market of Monsters series , Vol. 1

An adolescent, yet Nietzschean, examination of humanity and horror.

Nita is a monster. Literally. She can heal her own wounds and even block her pain receptors. But she and her mother also deal in monsters, species regulated by the International Non-Human Police, selling their body parts on the black market. Her ghoulish mother hunts and kills, while Nita dissects them with a meditative grace, trying to think of herself as innocent. But when Nita’s conscience inconveniently prevents her from vivisecting a live specimen, she’s kidnapped and taken to the Amazon, caged by people in the same business. Menaced by a zannie (creatures that feed off physical pain) and a ruthless woman, Nita, who is mixed species (with a brown-skinned human father and a nonhuman mother), has to figure out how to escape and whether she has any morals to live by. The vivid setting, Mercado de la Muerte (one of several Death Markets worldwide) in a sweltering South American jungle populated by buyers, sellers, and sold, is matched by a zipping plot interspersed with deliciously horrifying and gory scenes of dismemberment and destruction. Equally intriguing is the constant musing on what makes a monster, how people respond to trauma and control, and how one’s choices affirm or deny one’s own humanity.

A slasher flick spliced with Crime and Punishment, this engrossing debut novel asks complex philosophical questions in a pleasingly hard-to-stomach way. (Fantasy. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-86354-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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