Slightly uneven but rich and exciting throughout.

THE KISS OF DECEPTION

From the Remnant Chronicles series , Vol. 1

There are two sides to every story—unless there are three.

Unwilling to marry a foreign prince she’s never seen to secure a treaty between nations, Lia bolts from her father’s castle on the wedding day. She’s the king’s First Daughter, but she won’t tolerate an arranged life, no matter how old the tradition. She settles in a fishing village and works, mostly incognito, at an inn. Lia narrates in the first person, but so do two others: the jilted Prince, intrigued by and resentful at her flight, and the Assassin, sent from a third land to kill her. The boys converge on the inn and enter posing as friends, neither knowing the other’s identity, each using the ruse to his own ends. As the text shifts to labeling each boy’s chapters by name rather than noun, Pearson plants more red herrings than truthful hints about which boy is which; some readers may guess right, while others will have it wrong until the explicit reveal. Post-reveal, the novel shifts to classic fantasy fare: travels across rough terrain; death, danger, kidnapping; romanticized Romany-esque wanderers; epic love; a magical gift of “listening without ears [and] seeing without eyes.” A bold ending whets appetites for the next installment, in which, readers will hope, the assassin will become a less cryptic character.

Slightly uneven but rich and exciting throughout. (map) (Fantasy. 14-17)

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9923-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.

FIREBORNE

From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

What happens to the world after the dust from a revolution has settled?

Friends Annie and Lee were children from very different circles when Atreus killed Lee’s father, dragonlord Leon Stormscourge, ending the uprising on the bloodiest day in Callipolis’ history. For too long the dragonriders held all the power while their people starved and lived in fear. Nine years later, a new generation of dragonriders is emerging, children selected and trained on merit, not bloodlines. Their dragons are finally mature enough for them to compete for Firstrider, a position of power that can give Lee back a small part of what his family lost. However, not only is Lee competing against Annie, but rumors are circulating that some of the royal family have survived and have dragons of their own. Everyone will have to make a choice: Restore the old regime, support the First Protector and the new caste system he created, or look for a new way, no matter what the cost. From the beginning, this book pulls readers in with political intrigue and action. What keeps them invested, however, are the complex relationships between many cast members. Choices are complex, and the consequences for all could be deadly. The world is well fleshed out and believable. Annie and Lee are light skinned; secondary characters are diverse, and race is a nonissue in this world.

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes. (author’s note) (Fantasy.14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51821-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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The shelves are already crowded with teens-training-for-space stories; there’s no need to make room for this one.

THE FINAL SIX

From the Final Six series , Vol. 1

Teens become astronauts in record time for an inaugural space mission.

After losing his family to “the greatest flood Rome has ever known,” skilled white Italian swimmer Leo Danieli would never have expected that in his darkest moment he would be drafted by the European Space Agency to attend the International Space Training Camp, where teens will train to terraform and colonize Jupiter’s moon Europa for human settlement. California native Naomi Ardalan, a second-generation Iranian-American, has also been chosen for her expertise in science and technology. During a period of violent climate change worldwide, Earth’s governments are desperate to draft teens for a space mission for which they have only a few weeks in which to prepare. Twenty-four teen finalists, many orphaned by cataclysmic natural disasters, have been chosen from all over the world to compete for this space colonization mission. Warnings come to Leo and Naomi that there is a more sinister aspect to this mission, especially after things go tragically awry with other candidates during the training. The relationship that develops between Naomi and Leo feels forced, as if their meeting necessitates speedy deployment of a romantic cliché. The use of predictable plot devices, along with the fundamentally ludicrous premise, undermines any believability that would make a reader invest in such an elaborate space journey.

The shelves are already crowded with teens-training-for-space stories; there’s no need to make room for this one. (Science fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-265894-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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