THE NAMED

Swashbuckling time-travel plus soap-opera relationships make for a page-turning start to a promised trilogy. The mysterious death of Ethan’s older sister when he was only four left his family a wreck: his mother hospitalized with depression, his father an emotional automaton, and Ethan subject to horrific nightmares. But for Ethan, his real life for the past 12 years has been with the Guardians of Time, in their eternal battle to prevent the Order of Chaos from disrupting the proper workings of history. After he’s assigned to train his schoolmate, Isabel, as his first Apprentice, an ancient prophecy gives the pair only a few short weeks to thwart Chaos’s top general in his assaults against the past, before the unfolding of an even more terrifying destiny. Protecting the time stream is hardly an innovative concept in fantastic fiction, but Curley pulls it off with panache. While the various historical periods are only perfunctorily limned, the ritualistic panoply of the Guard itself begs for further exploration. Cocky, loyal Ethan and self-confident Isabel are likable enough, but the real hook for teen readers will be their romantic entanglements. Isabel hides her lifelong crush on Ethan, as her older brother, once his best friend, seethes over Ethan’s attraction to his girlfriend; meanwhile, an unlikely character recognizes in the oblivious Isabel his own destined soulmate. Anguished heartbreak and suppressed longing are bound to continue to spice up the history-hopping sword-and-sorcery, making the sequels an ongoing guilty pleasure. (Fantasy. 12+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-58234-779-4

Page Count: 332

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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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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