FOREVER RED

From the Black Widow series , Vol. 1

Fans of the Marvel Universe aren’t by definition stupid, and even though they will be jazzed by the schmaltzy heroic high...

A homeless Ukrainian girl, a suburban American boy, and a world-famous superheroine save the world.

Eight years ago, Natasha Romanov rescued a little girl from Natasha's own evil father figure, Ivan the Strange, and promised the child she'd always be there for her. Then Natasha—the Avenger known as the Black Widow—vanished from Ava Orlova's life, leaving her in the questionable care of the government agency S.H.I.E.L.D. Now Ava is a fiercely independent teen living in the basement of a Brooklyn YWCA. Ava has free fencing lessons and her ongoing dreams of a mysterious tattooed boy she calls Alexei Manorovsky; what else does she need? When her best friend convinces her to join a fencing tournament, she chances upon both her tattooed dream boy and the Black Widow. The Black Widow insists Ava is in danger and must be protected; Alex Manor, entranced by Ava, demands to help. In the ensuing explosion-packed adventure, Alex spouts pop culture ("Fifty points for Ivanclaw"), all three protagonists get their own overwrought dramatic arcs, and cameos from Marvel characters such as Tony Stark and Phil Coulson enhance the fan appeal. Unfortunately, the plot development is largely incoherent, and worldbuilding feels phoned-in. The portrayal of Ukrainian culture owes more to Cold War comics than reality, and evil Ivan's mad-scientist bunker laboratory could be recycled from almost any other action-movie commie supervillain’s.

Fans of the Marvel Universe aren’t by definition stupid, and even though they will be jazzed by the schmaltzy heroic high jinks, they still deserve better than this . (Adventure. 11-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2643-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Marvel Press

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

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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