This familiar-feeling novel nevertheless takes a different look at the cost of conformity and the price of independence.

MEMORY GIRL

For most teenagers, fitting in is a high priority. But for some, remaining independent is even more important.

Jennza and the rest of her born-mates have been raised knowing that when they turn 15 they’ll be chosen by one of ShareHaven’s families. They’ll receive the memories of a family member lost to an accident, bringing that person back to life. Most are eager to take their place in society, hoping to be chosen for a life already proven productive and happy, welcomed back by parents, siblings, spouses, and offspring. But for Jennza, the Celebraze isn’t a happy occasion; it’s a fearful one. Once chosen, she’ll have to give up her memories…and aren’t her memories what make her unique? Jennza’s always been a bit curious, a bit different, someone who likes to climb fences and explore by the sea. She’s even found a new creature she’s adopted as her pet, Petal, part sea creature, part lizard, all playful affection. Jennza is sure there’s more to the world and to life. Singleton’s plot treads familiar genre ground, from world-specific vocabulary, much of it capitalized, to a first-person, present-tense narration that’s frequently expository. Racial categories do not seem to exist, and characters’ skin color tends to be described only when it’s nonwhite.

This familiar-feeling novel nevertheless takes a different look at the cost of conformity and the price of independence. (Science fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-944821-08-1

Page Count: 396

Publisher: CBAY

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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An engrossing addition to a thoughtful coming-of-age series.

AKATA WOMAN

From the Nsibidi Scripts series , Vol. 3

A Nigerian teen is pushed to otherworldly limits in search of a mystical object.

Three years after discovering her power as a Leopard, Sunny Nwazue, now 15, must embark on yet another dangerous journey. Tasked with retrieving what the Nimm women (her and Chichi’s ancestors) stole from Udide, the Great Spider Artist, Sunny and her coven—even-tempered Orlu, brash Sasha, and clever Chichi—have no choice other than to comply or risk their pasts and futures. As events are set in motion to track down Udide’s scroll, Sunny must also learn how to be one with Anyanwu, her spirit face, now that she is doubled, a rare occurrence among Leopard People. However, Anyanwu seems to disappear just when Sunny needs her most, and Sunny begins to resent something that is part of her. Over the course of the seven-day time limit Udide sets, Sunny must explore treacherous parts of the spirit world’s wilderness, a parallel Earth teeming with lush plant life and remarkable technology, and new parts of herself. Through the steadily paced, omniscient narration, Okorafor draws readers into Sunny’s compelling world—both real and imagined—making the setting as much of a character as the rest of the cast. As in the previous entries, themes of balance and accountability are woven throughout as Sunny is tested. All characters are Black.

An engrossing addition to a thoughtful coming-of-age series. (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-451-48058-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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