A missed opportunity to fully engage with a deeply serious issue


Floyd Twofeathers, a Cree teen, vents his frustrations in his secret journal, creating stories to alleviate the angst and confusion he experiences while living on the (fictional) Bitter Lake Reserve.

Suicides have become rampant, and things get even worse when a group of teen girls follows through on a suicide pact posted on social media. It is after this that Floyd feels the urgency to talk with his father, the hereditary tribal chief, to offer help to heal his community. Floyd’s mother, a medicine woman, also urges her husband to work with Floyd, but Floyd’s father, who is overwhelmed with the community’s problems, rejects them both, instead inviting a white actor to the reserve to make a movie in hopes of raising much-needed money. Meanwhile, Floyd hangs out with his friends, going fishing and playing video games even as he rallies them in support of their community and courts a beautiful young woman. This slim book struggles to maintain a consistent tone. What begins as a story addressing the serious impact of suicide in First Nations communities (including a lengthy, potentially triggering flashback to an attempted suicide early in the story) swerves jarringly to a scene in which Floyd’s parents kiss and cuddle as if they had not just learned of the newest suicides. Likewise Floyd’s high jinks with his friends and his instant infatuation with a friend’s beautiful sister (who’s described with stereotyped cliché as “exotic,” with “almond-shaped eyes” and “full ruby red lips”) distract from the suicide plotline. Furthermore, locating the story on a fictional reserve has a homogenizing effect on what is a varied and heterogeneous nation.

A missed opportunity to fully engage with a deeply serious issue . (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4594-1230-9

Page Count: 176

Publisher: James Lorimer

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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


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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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes


From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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