Worth reading for its unanswered questions if not for its heart.



From the Six series , Vol. 2

Adam and the other sentient, robot Pioneers return to battle evil Sigma, who targets Adam's hometown and everyone he loves by pitting the Pioneers against one another.

In this mission, the Pioneers are acutely aware that their high-tech bodies are prosthetic—not immortal. Their vulnerability, combined with civilians' fear of or pity for their robot forms, raises unexplored comparisons to their former disabled bodies. But while the Pioneers frequently explored the differences between their human and robot selves in The Six (2015), here they could well be humans with superpowers. Adam's emotions are analogous to humans', but his analyses could dull readers' reactions. The rules of robot romance (robo-mance?) are clever, but it's unclear how—even with sensors—the Pioneers can feel emotions so intensely without organs. However, if neuromorphology can apparently outstrip some laws of physics, mechanics may be moot. This superpower creates another deus ex machina, which suggests ominous consequences for technological evolution but also cheapens Adam's earlier vulnerability. Though emotion is technically crucial to the plot, action overwhelms it. Fans of Transformers might enjoy the robots' diverse weaponry, but Adam's dense blow-by-blow battle narration also makes the action potentially hard to visualize. (Robots seem to be able to process onslaughts of information effortlessly, but readers may not.) An abrupt cliffhanger sets up the next book.

Worth reading for its unanswered questions if not for its heart. (Science fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3170-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.


From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A purple page turner.


From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 2

This sequel to Clockwork Angel (2010) pits gorgeous, attractively broken teens against a menacing evil.

There's betrayal, mayhem and clockwork monstrosities, and the Shadowhunters have only two weeks to discover—oh, who are we kidding? The plot is only surprisingly tasty icing on this cupcake of a melodramatic love triangle. Our heroes are Tessa, who may or may not be a warlock, and the beautiful Shadowhunter warrior boys who are moths to her forbidden flame. It's not always clear why Tessa prefers Will to his beloved (and only) friend Jem, the dying, silver-eyed, biracial sweetheart with the face of an angel. Jem, after all, is gentle and kind, her dearest confidante; Will is unpleasant to everyone around him. But poor, wretched Will—who "would have been pretty if he had not been so tall and so muscular"—has a deep, dark, thoroughly emo secret. His trauma puts all previous romantic difficulties to shame, from the Capulet/Montague feud all the way to Edward Cullen's desire to chomp on Bella Swan. Somehow there's room for an interesting steampunk mystery amid all this angst. The supporting characters (unusually well-developed for a love-triangle romance) include multiple compelling young women who show strength in myriad ways. So what if there are anachronisms, character inconsistencies and weird tonal slips? There's too much overwrought fun to care.

A purple page turner. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7588-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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