Despite the simplistic and incongruous-feeling telepathic-enslaver theme, readers will return for the next installment in...

CINDER

From the Lunar Chronicles series , Vol. 1

Although it packs in more genres than comfortably fit, this series opener and debut offers a high coolness factor by rewriting Cinderella as a kickass mechanic in a plague-ridden future.

Long after World War IV, with a plague called letumosis ravaging all six Earthen countries, teenage Cinder spends her days in New Beijing doing mechanical repairs to earn money for her selfish adoptive mother. Her two sisters will attend Prince Kai’s ball wearing elegant gowns; Cinder, hated because she’s a cyborg, won’t be going. But then the heart-thumpingly cute prince approaches Cinder’s business booth as a customer, starting a chain of events that links her inextricably with the prince and with a palace doctor who’s researching letumosis vaccines. This doctor drafts cyborgs as expendable test subjects; none survive. Cinder’s personal tenacity and skill, as well as Meyer’s deft application of "Cinderella" nuggets—Cinder’s ill-fitting prosthetic foot (loseable on palace steps); a rusting, obsolete car colored pumpkin-orange—are riveting. Diluting them is a space-fantasy theme about mind-controlling Lunars from the moon, which unfortunately becomes the central plot. A connection between Cinder’s forgotten childhood and wicked Lunar Queen Levana is predictable from early on.

Despite the simplistic and incongruous-feeling telepathic-enslaver theme, readers will return for the next installment in this sharp, futuristic "Cinderella" tale. (Science fiction/fairy tale. 12-15)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-64189-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun.

STARSIGHT

From the Skyward series , Vol. 2

As if the threat of huge, raging monsters from hyperspace isn’t scary enough, hotshot fighter pilot Spensa Nightshade becomes embroiled in an alien empire’s politics.

On a desperate mission to steal hyperdrive technology from the crablike invading Krell who are threatening to destroy her beleaguered home colony on Detritus, Spensa, who is white, holographically disguises herself as a violet-skinned UrDail and slips into a Krell pilot training program for “lesser species.” The discovery that she’s being secretly trained not to fight planet-destroying delvers but to exterminate humans, who are (with some justification, having kindled three interstellar wars in past centuries) regarded in certain quarters as an irrationally aggressive species, is just one in a string of revelations as, in between numerous near-death experiences on practice flights, she struggles to understand both her own eerie abilities and the strange multispecies society in which she finds herself. There are so many characters besides Spensa searching for self-identity—notably her comic-relief sidekick AI M-Bot, troubled human friend Jorgen back on Detritus, and Morriumur, member of a species whose color-marked sexes create trial offspring—that even with a plot that defaults to hot action and escalating intrigue the pacing has a stop and start quality. Still, Spensa’s habitual over-the-top recklessness adds a rousing spark, and the author folds in plenty of banter as well as a colorful supporting cast.

Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-55581-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Sweet, if unremarkable.

BRIARHEART

A gentle “Sleeping Beauty”–inspired tale of teens training to defend a baby princess.

Fifteen-year-old Miri, beloved stepdaughter of the king, is freshly in love—with her baby sister. As the novel opens, Aurora’s christening looms, and any Disney fan will know what’s coming. However, this is Miri’s story, and pages of first-person description and exposition come before those events. Tirendell, like all kingdoms, has Light and Dark Fae. Dark Fae feed off human misery and sadness, but their desire to cause harm for self-benefit is tempered by the Rules. The Rules state that they can only act against humans under certain conditions, one being that those who have crossed them, for example, by failing to invite them to a royal christening, are fair game. Miri steps up instinctively at the moment of crisis and both deflects the curse and destroys the Dark Fae, which leads to the bulk of the novel: an extended and detailed day-to-day journey with Miri and her five largely indistinguishable new friends as they train in combat and magic to protect Aurora from future threats. With limited action and a minimal plot, this story lacks wide appeal but is notable for the portrait of deep familial love and respect, while the brief, episodic adventures (including talking animals) offer small pleasures. All characters are implied to be White.

Sweet, if unremarkable. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5745-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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