Well-paced action and mystery for an appealing heroine, complete with Cold War attitudes

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SKANDAL

From the Sekret series , Vol. 2

In 1964, a psychic Russian teen works with the CIA to prevent war with the Soviet Union.

Yulia Andreevna Chernina has defected to the United States to escape the KGB's psychic espionage program. Her old handlers groomed her ability to read thoughts and memories in order to crush dissidents and provoke a war between the USSR and the USA. In the freedom and creativity of America, she joins with other psychics to defeat the plans of the KGB psychic team—a team that is led in part by Yulia's mother. Yulia develops her psychic skills at the CIA's behest, but she doesn't think she can defeat the tyrannical Russians' powerful thought scrubbers. A pervading dread, disorientation and paranoia thoroughly soak her believable voice. The magnitude of her reasonable fears is most apparent from outside; when Yulia psychically thrusts her emotions into other characters, the external glimpse of her deep anxiety is troubling even to her. Smith's Washington, D.C., is dense with 1960s flavor. Though some of the well-researched historical events and people are sprinkled in without context or explanation, the colorfully described clothing, music and even racial tensions bring the era to light. As Yulia fights to save her family and prevent a war in a world filled with psychic powers and political maneuvering, she has to reach beyond passivity if she's to succeed.

Well-paced action and mystery for an appealing heroine, complete with Cold War attitudes . (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62672-005-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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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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Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles.

A MAP OF DAYS

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 4

The victory of Jacob and his fellow peculiars over the previous episode’s wights and hollowgasts turns out to be only one move in a larger game as Riggs (Tales of the Peculiar, 2016, etc.) shifts the scene to America.

Reading largely as a setup for a new (if not exactly original) story arc, the tale commences just after Jacob’s timely rescue from his decidedly hostile parents. Following aimless visits back to newly liberated Devil’s Acre and perfunctory normalling lessons for his magically talented friends, Jacob eventually sets out on a road trip to find and recruit Noor, a powerful but imperiled young peculiar of Asian Indian ancestry. Along the way he encounters a semilawless patchwork of peculiar gangs, syndicates, and isolated small communities—many at loggerheads, some in the midst of negotiating a tentative alliance with the Ymbryne Council, but all threatened by the shadowy Organization. The by-now-tangled skein of rivalries, romantic troubles, and family issues continues to ravel amid bursts of savage violence and low comedy (“I had never seen an invisible person throw up before,” Jacob writes, “and it was something I won’t soon forget”). A fresh set of found snapshots serves, as before, to add an eldritch atmosphere to each set of incidents. The cast defaults to white but includes several people of color with active roles.

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles. (Horror/Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3214-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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