Speculative fiction at its core, Oliver’s novel is also a reflection on the nature of humanity as explored through the...

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RINGER

It has been three weeks since the Haven Institute fell, but it still has subjects Lyra and Gemma in its insidious grip.

Lyra’s time is running out; as a result of Haven’s research, she’s terminally ill. She and Caelum set out to locate Dr. Saperstein, the man who gave her the disease. Failing that, they search for Lyra’s old friend, Dr. O’Donnell—but she seems to be hiding something. Alone but for Caelum, Lyra doesn’t know whom to trust. Meanwhile, Gemma’s powerful father arranged Lyra and Caelum’s new living situation, promising Gemma he wouldn’t give them up. When he breaks that promise, Gemma and Pete go to try to warn them. On their return home, they’re believed to be Lyra and Caelum and are kidnapped, taken to a decommissioned airplane hangar where surviving replicas have been packed in by the hundreds. Gemma and Pete will have to find a way to survive here until they’re rescued. Lyra, Gemma, and Pete are white, Caelum has dark skin, and a number of important minor characters are described as having dark, black, or brown skin. As with Replica (2016), Gemma’s and Lyra’s interlocking stories are told separately, bound together in a dos-à-dos volume that gives readers control over how to go forward. The third-person narration plunges along at a positively addicting pace.

Speculative fiction at its core, Oliver’s novel is also a reflection on the nature of humanity as explored through the dualities of life/death, autonomy/ownership, truth/lies, and good/evil. (Science fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-239419-4

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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Crackling with energy, just the ticket for an all-night read.

THIS SAVAGE SONG

Natural enemies find themselves reluctant allies in a war-torn, monstrous future.

Schwab’s latest seems poised to grab both her adult and teen readers; the world is fascinating (if sometimes a little thin—education and technology are almost exactly the same in this future), the characters complicated, and the political machinations and emotional depths both charged and compelling. The scene: an isolated supercity in former middle America, populated by the evil Corsai and Malchai and the more complicated Sunai, who can kill only those who have killed (and must do so regularly to maintain their semblance of humanity); all have been born from moments of violence. Against this, Kate Harker (fair-haired, partially deaf, inclined to arson and spying) returns to appease and impress her father, who controls the Malchai and half the city. Across town, Sunai August (seemingly 16, black haired and gray-eyed, a monster who tries to be human) wants his adoptive father’s side to succeed in creating a better world. Family and interpersonal dynamics, questions of good and evil, horrifying monsters (some of them human), and moments of violence both graphic and poetic serve as backdrop to a growing sense of kinship between Kate and August, who want a better world—but probably won’t get one, based on the zinger of an ending.

Crackling with energy, just the ticket for an all-night read. (Futuristic fantasy/horror. 15 & up)

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-238085-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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