Readers won't learn history from this anachronistic and sometimes-inconsistent adventure, but they might enjoy some...

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BANISHED

From the Forbidden series , Vol. 2

A Bronze Age desert adventure continues in this second trilogy entry, spicing its inspirational romance with the sybaritic wickedness of pagan sex worshippers.

Jayden and Kadesh, having failed to rescue Jayden's tribe from her villainous betrothed (Forbidden, 2014), race through the desert to Kadesh's home kingdom of Sariba. They flee the conquering armies of those tribes whose ambition is empowered by the pagan Temple of Ashtoreth. The Temple of Ashtoreth has already seduced Jayden's beloved sister into ungodly wickedness, so shameful for a desert princess. Jayden and Kadesh are both descendants of the biblical patriarch Abraham, and though Jayden seems to vacillate between worshipping an ancient Mother Goddess and "the God of Abraham," she and Kadesh clearly despise "the cults of gods and goddesses who demand your body and soul." Indeed, this particular goddess cult seems to be a murdering, drugging, brainwashing crop of fiends—for when Kadesh and Jayden finally arrive in Sariba, the machinations of the debauched temple acolytes might prevent their marriage and doom the kingdom. Jayden's journey through the ancient Arabia of The Book of Mormon leaves her plenty of opportunity to learn sword fighting, befriend the Queen of Sheba, and take bubble baths. A cliffhanger leaves all that Jayden's achieved at risk.

Readers won't learn history from this anachronistic and sometimes-inconsistent adventure, but they might enjoy some angst-ridden passionate yearning. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-219501-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful.

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SALT TO THE SEA

January 1945: as Russians advance through East Prussia, four teens’ lives converge in hopes of escape.

Returning to the successful formula of her highly lauded debut, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys combines research (described in extensive backmatter) with well-crafted fiction to bring to life another little-known story: the sinking (from Soviet torpedoes) of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff. Told in four alternating voices—Lithuanian nurse Joana, Polish Emilia, Prussian forger Florian, and German soldier Alfred—with often contemporary cadences, this stints on neither history nor fiction. The three sympathetic refugees and their motley companions (especially an orphaned boy and an elderly shoemaker) make it clear that while the Gustloff was a German ship full of German civilians and soldiers during World War II, its sinking was still a tragedy. Only Alfred, stationed on the Gustloff, lacks sympathy; almost a caricature, he is self-delusional, unlikable, a Hitler worshiper. As a vehicle for exposition, however, and a reminder of Germany’s role in the war, he serves an invaluable purpose that almost makes up for the mustache-twirling quality of his petty villainy. The inevitability of the ending (including the loss of several characters) doesn’t change its poignancy, and the short chapters and slowly revealed back stories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning.

Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful. (author’s note, research and sources, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-16030-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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