Where Blood Red Road (2011) was fast-paced and chaotic, this meandering book just bogs down.


From the Dustlands series , Vol. 2

Good post-apocalyptic fiction raises questions about humankind's capacity to learn from its mistakes, but this thinly-plotted second installment of the Dustlands trilogy is not up to the task.

Here, the common folk, with all the trappings of peasantry from centuries past, are lifted from their mean lives by shamans, sweat lodges and vision quests. Heroes and heroines rise from the ranks to battle the evil Tonton and their new leader, the Pathfinder, who's set upon slaughtering the old and weak and creating a race of settlers for New Eden. Wrecker civilization has left car-strewn hillsides, imposing concrete buildings and wastelands for Saba and her motley crew to traverse. But Saba, with a price on her head, mostly wants to be left alone to ride west to reunite with her one true love, Jack—although she's tempted by others along the way. Derivative plot elements, from the nine black-robed men on horseback to the Wraithway, are not helped by the progressively garbled syntax that connotes not so much a dialect as the well-worn trope of the noble savage. Saba finds the Wraithway filled with evidence of Wreckers' "earth hate.…The skellentons of their buildins. The toppled chimleys," a place haunted by "the spirits of earth an water."

Where Blood Red Road (2011) was fast-paced and chaotic, this meandering book just bogs down. (Post-apocalyptic adventure. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-3000-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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A rush of emotion and suspense.


Crowds gather across the United States for the launch of Death-Cast, a company that promises to change the world by predicting the deaths of everyone who subscribes in this prequel to They Both Die at the End (2017).

Orion Pagan, an aspiring author with a heart condition, hopes his phone won’t ring at midnight, but he knows Death-Cast’s call is coming soon. Unlike Orion, Valentino Prince, a model on the verge of his national debut, has no reason to anticipate Death-Cast’s call and isn’t sure if he believes the company’s claims. By coincidence or fate, their lives collide at a party in Times Square, and a single, historic phone call alters the courses of their futures. This heart-pounding story follows the final day of the first Decker, or person who is going to die, and the national chaos of Death-Cast’s premiere. Silvera crafts a web of intricately interconnected character perspectives and conflicts around Orion and Valentino. Apart from Valentino and his twin sister, who are presumed White, most of the characters are Latine, including White-passing Orion, whose family is Puerto Rican. The story confronts heavy topics like grief, abuse, and religious faith with complexity and care. Despite the presumed inevitability of a fatal end to the central romance between Orion and Valentino, Silvera subverts the trope of punishing gay characters with violent tragedy. Familiarity with the original book provides additional context and depth but isn’t essential to understanding the plot.

A rush of emotion and suspense. (Speculative fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-324080-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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