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A challenging thematic sequel that never talks down to YA audiences.

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A girl and a special dolphin lead a lost ship through space in this YA sequel.

Andi and Artie Johnston are 12-year-old twins traveling the cosmos. Andi rides her “supernatural” golden dolphin, Lux, with whom she has a mental bond. The brilliant but taciturn Artie is safe aboard the Kronos, a sailing ship belonging to Capt. Grubb and his crew. Lux is pulling the ship through space so the crew can eventually “find their lost people.” Suddenly, a mysterious armored figure approaches the ship and accosts Lux. This is Mynost, who seems to demand the dolphin’s help and transmits to Lux the image of an eye in a circle. The ship’s navigator, an aquatic selkie named Calypso, believes the image refers to the legendary Oracle, which Andi and Lux are best suited to find. Some aboard the ship don’t want them to leave, however. After several violent acts demoralize the crew—and one severely injures Donalys, Grubb’s 10-year-old nephew—Andi and Lux scout out a distant world. On it, they meet the alien Mashah. He leads them to a series of metal symbols that form the Horologium locus, which will aid in the journey. Back on the Kronos, it’s soon discovered that Mynost also covets the Horologium locus, and an unthinkable choice is made to preserve the mission. Reynolds’ protagonists may barely be teenagers, but their complex emotional travails make for elevated YA reading. For example, Andi keeps a secret from Artie about their mother’s true fate; meanwhile, their best friend, Jubal, has an abusive, alcoholic mother. The depictions of deep space are exquisite: “Each ball of sun, every pinprick of far-flung stars, and the wavy, curvy nebulae whispered to her.” Unexpected terrors, like a creature made of blood, break up ethical discussions and interpersonal drama that give the space journey a disquieting realism. The final quarter reveals a surprise enemy in the crew’s midst and some dark cosmic happenings.

A challenging thematic sequel that never talks down to YA audiences.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2022

ISBN: 979-8218070588

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022

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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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A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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