A bright, resourceful heroine makes her mark in this first novel with a shaky, brutal premise.

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Tor Maddox: Unleashed

A teenage girl uncovers a shadowy conspiracy threatening the nation’s dogs in this YA thriller.

Torrance Olivia Maddox—called Tor—is about to turn 16. Her main concerns: getting the pas de deux in the holiday ballet show, studying vocabulary, hanging with friends, and following CNN obsessively. At the dog park with her dog, Cocoa, she meets a cute guy but soon learns that both the young man and his dog died suddenly of an unknown type of influenza. Spurred by an anonymous blogger (“Are you aware that Man’s Best Friend just became Public Enemy Number One?”) and CNN’s coverage of the dangerous new flu strain, she begins investigating. Her research and intelligent deductions convince her that dogs are the vector, yet the authorities say nothing. She writes an angry email to CNN and men in black start tailing her; meanwhile, the government mandates “protective isolation” for dogs in affected areas. But what Tor witnesses convinces her that most of the dogs are healthy and that people aren’t getting their dogs back. She decides to take action, putting herself and Cocoa at risk. The smart, curious, funny Tor is an appealing young heroine. Although, she’s not entirely realistic—she’s a 5-foot-10-inch ballerina whose only “flaw” is a casual sense of style. Her friends “beg [her] to put on the micro styles that make them hate their own thighs.” The plot is suspenseful and balances the thrills with some laughs. However, Coley (Tor Maddox: Mistaken, 2015, etc.), asks readers to believe that millions of dog owners would obediently surrender their healthy, beloved pets to the government and ask no questions, a stretch at best. Also, the huge number of pets that die here is off-putting in the extreme.

A bright, resourceful heroine makes her mark in this first novel with a shaky, brutal premise.

Pub Date: May 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5088-6080-8

Page Count: 306

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2015

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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.

THE TWIN

After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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