An all-around win for readers who enjoy (not too scary) horror, thrilling tales, and contemplating the deeper meaning of...

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THE DARK DESCENT OF ELIZABETH FRANKENSTEIN

White’s (Bright We Burn, 2018, etc.) timely retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is told from the point of view of 17-year-old Elizabeth Lavenza, ward of the Frankensteins and caretaker of Victor Frankenstein.

Elizabeth’s childhood was full of loss and despair. In the Frankenstein home she was cared for as long as she socialized Victor and kept him calm, but he has gone off to study and fallen out of contact. Without him, she feels her future is uncertain, as he was the reason for her existence in his family’s home. Fearing that she will be once again destitute, Elizabeth convinces her friend Justine to travel with her to find Victor and bring him back. What Elizabeth finds rocks her to her core, and, fearing for Victor’s safety and future, she does all she can to protect him. But what if the monster she truly fears is not the misshapen monstrosity of Victor’s creation but something with a more human form? White creates an exciting tale with strong, witty, and certainly flawed, white female protagonists. Readers will ponder whether monsters are beings that are outwardly frightening or if it is one’s soul, or lack thereof, that makes one a true monster. Those familiar with the original story will enjoy the references to it scattered throughout.

An all-around win for readers who enjoy (not too scary) horror, thrilling tales, and contemplating the deeper meaning of life. (Fiction. 15-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-57794-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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Only marginally intriguing.

REDEMPTION PREP

In a remote part of Utah, in a “temple of excellence,” the best of the best are recruited to nurture their talents.

Redemption Preparatory is a cross between the Vatican and a top-secret research facility: The school is rooted in Christian ideology (but very few students are Christian), Mass is compulsory, cameras capture everything, and “maintenance” workers carry Tasers. When talented poet Emma disappears, three students, distrusting of the school administration, launch their own investigation. Brilliant chemist Neesha believes Emma has run away to avoid taking the heat for the duo’s illegal drug enterprise. Her boyfriend, an athlete called Aiden, naturally wants to find her. Evan, a chess prodigy who relies on patterns and has difficulty processing social signals, believes he knows Emma better than anyone. While the school is an insidious character on its own and the big reveal is slightly psychologically disturbing, Evan’s positioning as a tragic hero with an uncertain fate—which is connected to his stalking of Emma (even before her disappearance)—is far more unsettling. The ’90s setting provides the backdrop for tongue-in-cheek technological references but doesn’t do anything for the plot. Student testimonials and voice-to-text transcripts punctuate the three-way third-person narration that alternates among Neesha, Evan, and Aiden. Emma, Aiden, and Evan are assumed to be white; Neesha is Indian. Students are from all over the world, including Asia and the Middle East.

Only marginally intriguing. (Mystery. 15-18)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266203-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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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