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SKYHUNTER

From the Skyhunter series , Vol. 1

An exciting, layered, action-filled tale with a cast of sympathetic characters.

A group of young soldiers defend their home against the evil Karensa Federation.

Talin is a Basean refugee in Mara, treated with xenophobic cruelty by many but recognized for her skill by her battle partner, Corian, and friends Rooke and Jeran. The capture of a former Federation fighter named Redlen with magnificent, strange abilities forces her into new territory and life-altering decisions. Redlen exposes details about the Federation’s genetically engineered army of Ghosts, zombielike creatures, leading Talin and the rest to hatch a desperate scheme to infiltrate their stronghold and sabotage their production—against explicit orders. Their mission and its aftermath help Talin understand more about her role in Mara and her reasons for defending a nation where she is often persecuted. In this cinematically imagined dystopia, Talin uses sign language to communicate since early trauma in her homeland at the hands of the Federation resulted in the cessation of her speech. In a deftly plotted first-person narrative that is both expansive and detailed in its depiction of the setting and includes quick-moving battle sequences, Talin’s trajectory is convincing. In a few instances, her earnest realizations about her own motivations can feel a bit pat, but this is a mostly nuanced and poignant story that is left wide open for a welcome sequel. Characters have a range of skin tones; one male character is in love with another man.

An exciting, layered, action-filled tale with a cast of sympathetic characters. (map) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-22168-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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THE DARKNESS WITHIN US

Banter and sexual tension abound in this enjoyable enemies-to-lovers fantasy.

The underestimated sister of a soon-to-be queen has her own tale to tell in this companion novel to Levenseller’s The Shadows Between Us (2020).

Nineteen-year-old Chrysantha and her younger sister, Alessandra, who’s the fiancee of the Shadow King, don’t have the best relationship. Chrysantha has always been jealous of how easily Alessandra achieves success, while Alessandra thinks Chrysantha is a fool. For her part, Chrysantha uses this reputation as a facade and a means to an end while she patiently awaits the demise of her lewd—and wealthy—husband, the Duke of Pholios. With Chrysantha’s assistance, the 64-year-old duke dies, allowing his widow to drop the charade and focus on being independent and spending money according to her own whims and desires. That is, until distractingly handsome 18-year-old Eryx Demos arrives, claiming to be her late husband’s heir who’s ready to take control of the estate. Combining her objectives of outshining Alessandra at her royal wedding with enjoying some captivating arm candy and gaining Eryx’s trust in order to stab him in the back, Chrysantha takes up the job of molding Eryx into a proper duke. Chrysantha’s and Eryx’s wickedly charming personalities clash in the most pleasing and seductive ways, so that even though the plot feels repetitive at times, there’s still much to delight in. Chrysantha’s skin is “dark beige”; Eryx is “tanned” and has “tawny-brown hair.”

Banter and sexual tension abound in this enjoyable enemies-to-lovers fantasy. (Fantasy romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 9, 2024

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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