A richly detailed coming-of-age fantasy epic that rewards the patient and contemplative reader.

THE BEAST PLAYER

Can humans bridge the gulf that separates them from beasts? Is it love that binds all sentient life—or fear?

In this translation of the first entry in international-award–winning Japanese author Uehashi’s (Moribito, 2014, etc.) hit series, 10-year-old Elin idolizes her mother, a skilled beast doctor for Toda, fearsome battle serpents. When some Toda die mysteriously, Elin’s mother is sentenced to death. Elin escapes and finds a kind beekeeper in the mountains who raises her as his own. As she grows into adulthood, she discovers her love for all living creatures and a unique gift for communicating with the magical Royal Beasts. But the nation’s political structure is fragile. Soon Elin is thrust into deadly civil conflict and must decide whether to use her beloved animal friends as tools of war. The author creates complex societies and fantastical creatures with imaginative, immersive detail. In a refreshing change for Western readers, the central issue hinges on neither individual power nor romantic love but kindness balanced against responsibility, and the narrative jumps among the perspectives of numerous characters in a more digressive style than they may be accustomed to. It’s lovely to watch Elin blossom from a quiet, curious child into a compassionate, thoughtful young woman with a steadfast moral compass—even if that compass sometimes leads her astray.

A richly detailed coming-of-age fantasy epic that rewards the patient and contemplative reader. (Fantasy. 13-adult)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30746-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Star-crossed lovers carve their own paths in an explosive conclusion that lives up to its title.

OUR VIOLENT ENDS

From the These Violent Delights series , Vol. 2

New monsters terrorize Shanghai amid political upheaval and the reignition of the blood feud between the Chinese Scarlet Gang and the Russian White Flowers.

The death of Marshall Seo unleashed a new wave of violence, but when a mysterious figure wielding control over more deadly-insect–releasing monsters begins extorting money from both gangs, their leaders agree to temporarily cooperate in the interests of eliminating a mutual foe. They order their respective heirs to find the blackmailer, and so, once again, Roma Montagov and Juliette Cai must work together for the benefit of those under their protection. But their feelings for each other—complicated by hidden truths, lingering love, and unforgiving duty—prove difficult to repress. Meanwhile, the time of revolution draws near: Workers continue to organize protests decrying both foreign occupation and gangster rule as the Nationalist Army marches toward Shanghai in its campaign to unite and reclaim the country. Secrets abound and loyalties are tested in this tightly plotted sequel featuring a multinational cast and told through multiple third-person perspectives, including those of supporting characters introduced in These Violent Delights (2020). Stubborn Rosalind, obliging Kathleen, and grief-stricken Benedikt all return to play vital roles that blend seamlessly into Roma’s and Juliette’s storylines as they each are forced to consider what it is they truly want and the lengths they will go to protect it.

Star-crossed lovers carve their own paths in an explosive conclusion that lives up to its title. (Historical fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-534-45772-0

Page Count: 512

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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