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

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FOREVER RED

From the Black Widow series , Vol. 1

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 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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