An accessible yet carefully composed YA novel with a steampunk setting.


From the Steambound Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A girl with an amazing hand and a boy with a deadly condition collide in this YA steampunk novel by Richardson (Wild Horse, 2019), the first in a trilogy.

How’s this for steampunk: Gabby Lenton’s hand is literally made of steam due to a bizarre disorder that manifested when she was 9. Now she has to wear a clockwork glove to cover it. Gabby isn’t thrilled about the development. “I want to be normal, like everyone else,” she complains to her mother, who tells her in response, “One day…you’ll understand how special it is to be…well, special.” When her mother is murdered by a mysterious creature that breaks into their home, Gabby seeks help from Detective Shaw, who promises to help her catch the beast. As they begin to search the city’s shadowy precincts, Kemple is an orphan living in the house of an abusive foster father. He’s used to beatings and chores—enough that he’s willing to take the fall for the new girl, Josephyn, when she breaks the rules. Josephyn suggests that they escape, but once they’re out in the city, Kemple is scratched by a cat. The scratch becomes infected, and Kemple begins to get sick…begins, in fact, to change. As Gabby (rechristened Brielle) and Kemple independently drift through the city’s underworld—one seeking a cure, the other revenge—they discover that monsters are more numerous and more complex than either could have imagined. Richardson’s prose possesses the gritty urgency of urban fantasy, particularly when describing the novel’s imaginative scenery: “Pedestrians jostle against one another, as if the sidewalks have somehow become valuable property. Even the airships seem to have lost their gentle, whalelike sway—now the sky looks like a wild sea, with every dirigible behaving like a predator on the hunt.” The novel takes its time getting started, but the main characters—particularly Gabby—are likable and well drawn. Despite the steampunk setting, the story has a rather classic, almost mythic structure, which will entertain those who give themselves over to the novel’s somewhat leisurely pace. Two sequels are planned, and readers will be interested to see where Richardson goes with these two slow-cooked characters and their evocative milieu.

An accessible yet carefully composed YA novel with a steampunk setting.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-946154-35-4

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Meerkat Press, LLC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

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A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.


In O’Gorman’s YA debut, two best friends try to fool people into thinking that they’re in love—and then discover a new facet of their relationship.

Sally Spitz is a frizzy-haired 17-year-old girl with a charming zeal for three things: Harry Potter (she’s a Gryffindor), Star Wars, and getting into Duke University. During her senior year of high school, she goes on a slew of miserable dates, set up by her mother and her own second-best–friend–turned-matchmaker, Lillian Hooker. Sally refuses to admit to anyone that she’s actually head over Converses in love with her longtime best friend, a boy named Baldwin Eugene Charles Kent, aka “Becks.” After a particularly awkward date, Sally devises a plan to end Lillian’s matchmaking attempts; specifically, she plans to hire someone to act as her fake boyfriend, or “F.B.F.” But before Sally can put her plan into action, a rumor circulates that Sally and Becks are already dating. Becks agrees to act as Sally’s F.B.F. in exchange for a box of Goobers and Sally’s doing his calculus homework for a month. Later, as they hold hands in the hall and “practice” make-out sessions in Becks’ bedroom, their friendship heads into unfamiliar territory. Over the course of this novel, O’Gorman presents an inviting and enjoyable account of lifelong friendship transforming into young love. Though the author’s reliance on familiar tropes may be comforting to a casual reader, it may frustrate those who may be looking for a more substantial and less predictable plot. A number of ancillary characters lack very much complexity, and the story, overall, would have benefited from an added twist or two. Even so, however, this remains a largely engaging and often endearing debut. 

A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-759-7

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

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Well-drawn characters and playful twists keep this thriller fully charged.


This YA SF novel features a teen who must halt a virus that will kill two-thirds of humanity.

In Silver Oak, Maryland, Alice Sherman is a high school junior enjoying lunch near her campus basketball court. With her is Archie, her brother, a senior and science prodigy who likes equations more than his fellow students. Alice has been Archie’s one true friend since their mother left six years ago. Alice is about to catch up with Lalana Bunyasarn, her best friend, when a sudden “streak of electricity zaps through” her head. The agony intensifies until a Voice enters Alice’s mind, asking her, “Do you want this pain to stop?” The Voice then instructs her to go up to Bandit Sakda, a classmate playing basketball, and say that she loves him. Bandit is a beautiful Thai boy who’s talented and arrogant. Strangely, the Voice calls her Malice and says not to fall for him because “it’ll only make what you have to do later harder.” Eventually, Alice learns that the Voice belongs to someone from 10 years in the future who needs help saving humanity. A virus will be created by a person Alice knows that will wipe out two-thirds of the world population. Following the Voice’s directions can save everyone—except the person Alice is ordered to kill. Dunn’s (Star-Crossed, 2018, etc.) latest YA adventure offers increasingly tantalizing twists that gleam in succession like nested matryoshka dolls. Alice will charm readers with her quirks, especially her devotion to Chris Hemsworth of Marvel’s Avengers films. Tension builds as characters in the large cast, including crushworthy Zeke Cain and the brilliant Cristela Ruiz, become potential targets for Alice’s mission. Details about Thai culture add a splendid dimension to the narrative; for example, Bandit is pronounced “bun-dit” and means “one who is wise.” While the notion of a high school killer may not sit well with some, the author doesn’t use the device lightly. Her book takes a strong anti-bullying stance, doing so through an entertaining narrative that doesn’t resort to preaching. The author’s heart and craftiness make a sequel welcome.

Well-drawn characters and playful twists keep this thriller fully charged.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64063-412-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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