Despite some pacing hiccups, a series ender packed with action, scary enemies, and satisfying character arcs.

HEART OF THE STORM

From the Undertow Trilogy series , Vol. 3

Half-human, half-Sirena white teenager Lyric faces the biggest threat to the world yet in this trilogy closer.

The story jumps timelines by chapters that alternate between a present time and the three months between the present time and the end of Raging Sea (2016). In the present, a shell-shocked Lyric has clearly been through hell but has emerged again from the depths of the ocean, bearing terrible news of a new existential threat, far worse than the Rusalka or Undine. In the three-months-prior storyline, Lyric encounters an intelligent Rusalka who keeps her alive in the face of mad Minerva’s wrath and helps her learn more about Alpha mythology and the magic gloves that tether her to Husk. The alternating storylines don’t always work well together—the present one prevents surprises in the past storyline and unnecessarily prolongs the wait for details on the long-hinted-at threat. Once Lyric reunites with her cast of supporting characters and their land-based enemies start moving, the story picks up. The romantic storyline starts with the love triangle between Lyric and stoic Alpha warrior-prince Fathom and the sweet, hot geek hybrid Riley but then concludes in a way that’s as unexpected as it is satisfying, coinciding with character growth and development.

Despite some pacing hiccups, a series ender packed with action, scary enemies, and satisfying character arcs. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-34867-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An inspirational read.

THE LIGHT IN HIDDEN PLACES

A true story of faith, love, and heroism.

Stefania “Fusia” Podgórska longed for nothing more than to leave the rural Polish farm she was born on for the city of Przemyśl where her older sisters lived. At the age of 12, she did just that, finding a job with the Diamants, a family of Jewish shopkeepers who welcomed her into their lives. For three years they lived peacefully until the Germans dropped bombs on Przemyśl. The family struggled on as the war and anti-Semitism ramped up, but eventually, the Diamants were forced into a ghetto. Then 17, Catholic Fusia was determined to help them survive, even at the risk of her own safety, while also caring for her 6-year-old sister, Helena, after their family was taken by the Nazis for forced labor. Knowing the risks involved, Fusia made a bold decision to harbor Jews. As the number of people she sheltered increased, so did her panic about being caught, but she was determined to do what was right. Cameron (The Knowing, 2017, etc.) used Stefania’s unpublished memoir as well as interviews with family members as source material. She deftly details Fusia’s brave actions and includes moving family photographs in the author’s note. Narrated in the first person, the story highlights essential events in Fusia’s life while maintaining a consistent pace. Readers will be pulled in by the compelling opening and stay for the emotional journey.

An inspirational read. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35593-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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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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