An exceptionally ambitious debut from an author to watch.

GODDESS IN THE MACHINE

From the Goddess in the Machine series , Vol. 1

A girl wakes up from cryogenic sleep in an unrecognizable world.

In 2161 Andra went into stasis for space travel to a new colony. When handsome-yet-snarky Zhade wakes her on an unexpectedly devastated desert world, she learns she’s overslept—by around a thousand years. Worshipped as the last of the three goddesses (the other two having already woken), Andra’s expected to save the world. Along with differences between the world she knew and the one she awoke in, evolution of the English language into a futuristic dialect adds to her disorientation. While heavy use of this device will likely polarize readers, the dialect goes beyond a sprinkling of slang, possessing a strong intuitive internal logic, an authentic-feeling rhythm, and, sometimes, amusing origins. The characters aren’t quite as successful as the prose—love-interest Zhade is pretty stock for YA, and at times reading about Andra’s needing to be rescued gets old. Once readers (and Andra) get their bearings in Zhade’s storyline and Andra’s role, a series of twists and curveballs amps up stakes and tension, carrying the plot to its sequel-promising conclusion. Zhade is coded as white; Andra is fat and cued as biracial (with a redheaded mother and Hokkien-speaking grandmother); the world has diversity in skin tone, and Andra notes that those at the top tend to be lighter skinned.

An exceptionally ambitious debut from an author to watch. (Science fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-3592-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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