This trilogy opener will be just the thing for those readers still hungry for dystopias

THE CROSSING

From the Blood of the Lamb series , Vol. 1

Post-apocalyptic religious exploitation in Micronesia forms the theme of this dystopia.

Maryam has waited almost all her life for her Bloods to come, so she can fulfill her destiny in the Holy City. Ever since the Tribulation that churned the sea and destroyed the power sources, the people of her Pacific island—roughly based on the nation of Kiribati, according to the author’s note—have followed the guidance of the white-skinned Apostles of the Lamb. As a tiny child, Maryam was taken from her birthparents when a blood test showed she was one of the Lord's Chosen. The religious experience she's been dreaming of, however, is more like a nightmare. The white-robed and white-skinned Apostles enslave the "native" servers, keeping them hungry and sexually exploited, drunk and pregnant, and constantly in superstitious terror. Maryam learns to trust nobody (except, perhaps, for the requisite sympathetic, handsome boy). Maryam's perspective isn't as tightly drawn as it could be, with viewpoints that seem to come more from an Apostle or even a contemporary reader, rather than an islander raised among other islanders. Nonetheless, her struggle to recognize and fight exploitation that's been reinforced by religious faith is compelling. Perhaps one day Maryam will cast off her Chosen name and reclaim the name of her birth, the name given to her by her own people.

This trilogy opener will be just the thing for those readers still hungry for dystopias . (Dystopian romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61614-698-6

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Pyr/Prometheus Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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A purple page turner.

CLOCKWORK PRINCE

From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 2

This sequel to Clockwork Angel (2010) pits gorgeous, attractively broken teens against a menacing evil.

There's betrayal, mayhem and clockwork monstrosities, and the Shadowhunters have only two weeks to discover—oh, who are we kidding? The plot is only surprisingly tasty icing on this cupcake of a melodramatic love triangle. Our heroes are Tessa, who may or may not be a warlock, and the beautiful Shadowhunter warrior boys who are moths to her forbidden flame. It's not always clear why Tessa prefers Will to his beloved (and only) friend Jem, the dying, silver-eyed, biracial sweetheart with the face of an angel. Jem, after all, is gentle and kind, her dearest confidante; Will is unpleasant to everyone around him. But poor, wretched Will—who "would have been pretty if he had not been so tall and so muscular"—has a deep, dark, thoroughly emo secret. His trauma puts all previous romantic difficulties to shame, from the Capulet/Montague feud all the way to Edward Cullen's desire to chomp on Bella Swan. Somehow there's room for an interesting steampunk mystery amid all this angst. The supporting characters (unusually well-developed for a love-triangle romance) include multiple compelling young women who show strength in myriad ways. So what if there are anachronisms, character inconsistencies and weird tonal slips? There's too much overwrought fun to care.

A purple page turner. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7588-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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Though it’s a bit of a slog, readers of Book 1 will find it worth the time for its unexpected conclusion

THE SHADOW'S CURSE

A lost prince and his ladylove must defeat the tyrant rampaging over the steppes with an army of enslaved spirits in this sequel to The Oathbreaker’s Shadow (2015).

Raim is haunted by the spirit of his best friend, Khareh—a spirit that appeared when Raim accidentally broke an oath made by another, leaving him magically marked and exiled from his nomadic tribe as an oathbreaker. Khareh yet lives, but with the best part of himself lost in the spirit, his ambition has become megalomania. Not content to be khan of his tribe alone, Khareh aims to join all the northern nomads into one massive khanate. Raim seeks control over his spirit but also yearns to rescue Wadi, the dark-skinned desert girl to whom he's given his heart. Wadi is Khareh's captive, and she is more than capable of freeing herself from the cruel young khan; nevertheless she must stay a captive. It's her destiny to make a king of Raim, she learns from a blind seer in one of the stalest tropes of superpowered disability. Raim, Khareh, and Wadi travel all over the steppes of Darhan, giving a solid glimpse of this fantasy world roughly based on the lives of Mongolian nomads. A dense narrative of tiny chapters with shifting points of view leaves little time to become invested in each character's journey.

Though it’s a bit of a slog, readers of Book 1 will find it worth the time for its unexpected conclusion . (Fantasy. 13-15)

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7387-4512-1

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Flux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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