For readers who can never have enough dystopian fiction; all others should refer to the classics.

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FREEDOM TRIALS

Tate’s (Missing Pieces, 2015) sophomore outing introduces a near-future dystopia where juvenile offenders are locked up underground and their memories are wiped of all their criminal deeds in hopes of being granted release through successful completion of the Freedom Trials.

Evelyn Summers is pretty sure she is 16, though she cannot be certain. Like all other hacks in the Center she had her memory wiped, obfuscating the reasons for her incarceration. Despite the difficulty in feeling remorse for a crime you cannot be sure you really committed, Evelyn has been a model prisoner, and the directors have every reason to hope she will successfully complete her Freedom Trials. In her prerequisite task, however, she encounters the violent and uniquely powerful Alex Martinez, who proclaims that he once knew her—triggering a quest for the real reasons behind her conviction and the truths hidden in her wiped memories. The first several chapters of first-person narrative are followed by peeks into Evelyn’s journals detailing her first months in the Center lockup along with hints at her missing memories, such as the unexplained absence of the letter “D.” Graphic, though rarely gratuitous, violence permeates the latter half of the book. The hopeful ending leaves the door open for a sequel. Evelyn presents as white, though the members of the supporting cast have varied racial backgrounds.

For readers who can never have enough dystopian fiction; all others should refer to the classics. (Dystopian. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62414-599-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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