This rather odd tale should appeal to thinkers and fans of ancient historical fiction.

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JUST MYRTO

An unusual, quiet historical novel chronicles what the life of Socrates’ second wife may have been like.

After her father dies, Myrto is given to her brother’s former teacher, Socrates, as a second wife. As a young woman in ancient Greece, Myrto can aspire to little more than the hope for a kind husband. However, in Socrates, Myrto also finds a great mind: He encourages Myrto to think through discussion and reading with his son, Lamprocles, and their friends. On their wedding night, Socrates assures a frightened Myrto that he will never force himself on her. Myrto and Socrates eventually become lovers, but given how much time was spent on Myrto’s fear of consummating her marriage, it seems strange that this is only mentioned in passing. Similarly, when Myrto becomes pregnant, she is frightened of childbirth. Even more time is spent on her overcoming this fear, but the birth itself is glanced over, which may leave readers feeling a bit thrown off. The majority of this book is an examination of Socratic philosophy, resulting in a story in which not much happens apart from incredible intellectual growth on the part of the protagonist.

This rather odd tale should appeal to thinkers and fans of ancient historical fiction. (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-935462-96-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Luminis

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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