A bombastic, engaging start to a sequel series full of potential.

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MONSTER

From the Gone series , Vol. 7

The Gone series continues.

It has been four years since the invisible dome created by an alien virus stunned the world and left hundreds of children to fend for themselves inside. Now, meteors are striking the Earth with even deadlier effects: mutating human beings into monsters. Some of these new mutants use their powers for selfish reasons, while others team up to use them for good. Meanwhile, shady government agencies are doing their best to contain the fallout. New characters and old favorites abound in this follow-up, which feels heavily influenced by comic books and the author’s pseudonymous work on the Animorphs series. Grant’s action sequences have improved, crisply composed here with exciting powers and a grounded sense of destruction. There are casualties, and the author doesn’t skip over the collateral damage these characters create. The psychological toll helps shade the author’s broad characterizations. The most complex and interesting characters are the ones brought over from the earlier books, but the new faces engage easily enough. The cast is fairly diverse, covering a wide variety of skin colors, sexual orientations, and gender identities. The setup for the sequel is blessedly minimal, growing naturally out of the story. Longtime fans will surely be excited by the novel’s final moments.

A bombastic, engaging start to a sequel series full of potential. (Science fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-246784-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Yet another bland, half-baked dystopian exercise.

CRAZY HOUSE

A teen girl goes looking for her missing twin sister.

In the absence of their parents, Cassie and Becca, both white, are doing their best to tend to the family farm. One morning, Cassie wakes up to discover Becca is missing. Meanwhile, Becca wakens in a horrific children’s prison, in which the detained are forced to fight to the death. As Cassie searches for her sister, Becca does her best to survive the torture her captors put her through. The novel is set in a future in which populations are organized geographically into isolated cells. The government controls all the information going in and out. More lurks beneath the surface, and the book sets up further installments, but few readers will feel the need to keep reading. The world is poorly built, the characters are dreadfully thin, and the plotting is drastically uneven. When Cassie and Becca are finally reunited, readers will have little reason to celebrate: their relationship is so thinly sketched they barely feel like sisters. The torture sequences in the teen prison are gratuitous and dreary. A last-minute twist is easily predicted, making the slow, tedious burn toward the reveal and the barely distinguishable characters all the more intolerable.

Yet another bland, half-baked dystopian exercise. (Dystopian adventure. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-43131-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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Questions of trust, trauma, loyalty, and territory, for readers who enjoy lie-infused romance.

DANCE OF THIEVES

From the Dance of Thieves series , Vol. 1

An elite soldier and the head of an unacknowledged dynasty fall in love while telling each other lie after lie.

Six years after the war described in The Beauty of Darkness (2016), the queen of Venda sends three top soldiers to hunt down a war criminal. One soldier is 17-year-old Kazi, formerly “an invisible street rat” of Venda, who honed her consummate thieving skills after her mother was kidnapped into (probable) sex slavery. The war criminal may be hiding at Tor’s Watch, where the ancient Ballenger Dynasty is newly led by 19-year-old Jase Ballenger. Tor’s Watch is politically unrecognized by the other kingdoms, and although the Ballengers refuse to demarcate their borders, they’re fiercely territorial. There are ongoing, possibly rogue, threats to their home, city, and trade arena. Kazi and Jase’s meet-cute is a meet-slam (her knife at his throat), and, of course, while chained together by kidnappers and deceiving each other incessantly, they fall in love. The action and reveals have strong content but little punch, and the romance is overwritten (“I was dancing with fire and hoping not to get burned”). However, Pearson’s plotting is solid, and the last section picks up steam, ending on a cryptic cliffhanger that begs the sequel to hurry. Kazi and Jase seem white by default; a few characters are noted as brown-skinned.

Questions of trust, trauma, loyalty, and territory, for readers who enjoy lie-infused romance. (Fantasy/romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-15901-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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