Intriguing premise but the verdict is still out.

DEALING IN DREAMS

Rivera (The Education of Margot Sanchez, 2017) crafts a feminist, futurist Latinx dystopia.

Mega City appears to be the only urban center left standing after a massive earthquake known colloquially as the Big Shake, a place where ideals of a feminist eutopia have devolved into gang violence, economic inequality, rampant drug addiction, and callous objectification of men. In this world of toxic femininity, Nalah, better known as Chief Rocka, leads a group of teen girls in patrolling the streets and pursuing an elusive dream of residing among the elite. When an assignment from on high sends Nalah and crew beyond the borders, she is exposed to new ideas and long-buried memories which threaten the foundations of her life. While addressing many hot-button issues, gender identity and expression lie at the heart of the drama. The pacing comes in fits and starts. Bursts of staccato action, frequently violent, are contrasted with languid interludes of pensive, often redundant, introspection. After spending much of the book blindly loyal to Mega City, the protagonist’s inevitable change of heart comes with a rapidity once reserved only for the Grinch. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this leaves many loose ends, ample hanging threads ripe for a sequel. Though characters’ ethnicities are never identified, the world they live in, which creatively flips the hallmarks of machismo on their head, is steeped in Latinx-Caribbean culture.

Intriguing premise but the verdict is still out. (Science fiction. 12-17)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7214-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun.

STARSIGHT

From the Skyward series , Vol. 2

As if the threat of huge, raging monsters from hyperspace isn’t scary enough, hotshot fighter pilot Spensa Nightshade becomes embroiled in an alien empire’s politics.

On a desperate mission to steal hyperdrive technology from the crablike invading Krell who are threatening to destroy her beleaguered home colony on Detritus, Spensa, who is white, holographically disguises herself as a violet-skinned UrDail and slips into a Krell pilot training program for “lesser species.” The discovery that she’s being secretly trained not to fight planet-destroying delvers but to exterminate humans, who are (with some justification, having kindled three interstellar wars in past centuries) regarded in certain quarters as an irrationally aggressive species, is just one in a string of revelations as, in between numerous near-death experiences on practice flights, she struggles to understand both her own eerie abilities and the strange multispecies society in which she finds herself. There are so many characters besides Spensa searching for self-identity—notably her comic-relief sidekick AI M-Bot, troubled human friend Jorgen back on Detritus, and Morriumur, member of a species whose color-marked sexes create trial offspring—that even with a plot that defaults to hot action and escalating intrigue the pacing has a stop and start quality. Still, Spensa’s habitual over-the-top recklessness adds a rousing spark, and the author folds in plenty of banter as well as a colorful supporting cast.

Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-55581-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

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  • Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Winner

P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 2

Lara Jean's romantic entanglements complicate themselves further.

In the wake of the events detailed in To All the Boys I Loved Before (2014), Lara Jean confesses her love for handsome golden boy Peter. This frees the pair to start a romantic relationship with a clean slate, but over the course of the novel it becomes clear that embarking on a relationship that turns an aggressive blind eye to baggage is never a good idea. When a viral video of a steamy love session between Peter and Lara Jean rears its ugly head and a boy from the past enters Lara Jean's life once more, Lara Jean's life gets complicated. Every character from Han’s adored previous novel is back, with new dimensions given to nearly every one of them. Subplots abound, among them two involving Lara Jean's father and Peter's ex-gal Genevieve, but benefitting most from this second look is John Ambrose McClaren, a boy briefly referenced in the former book who is thrust into the spotlight here as Peter's rival for Lara Jean's heart. With all these characters bouncing around, Han occasionally struggles to keep a steady hand on the novel's primary thrust: Lara Jean’s emotional development. Han gets the job done in the end, but this overeventful sequel pales to the original where structure is concerned. The author's greatest success remains her character work, and the book does indeed give everyone a solid arc, narrative be damned.

A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2673-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2015

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