DAMNED

This trilogy’s second act (Crusade, 2010) delivers less romance and more violence, but neither plot nor characters develop much.

Vampires have achieved world domination, but despite high-profile mass murder (the story opens with the running of the humans in Pamplona), little notice is taken. While life (contemporary consumer culture) goes on “under the fang,” pockets of resistance survive, including the Salamanca-based team of jet-setting first responders now led by American Jenn, mentored by mysterious Father Juan and supplemented by an Israeli and a Palestinian (united against the vampire threat). From Spain, their dismal itinerary takes them to rural Russia, Montana’s dustier corners and Las Vegas, somewhat improved by undead takeover. The derivative plot drinks deep from the Buffy gene pool; clichéd cultural labels serve as characterization. Long orgies of killing are interspersed with chaste, romantic interludes garnished by unrequited love—lust is strictly of the blood variety. Weapons range from high tech (Uzis) to old-fashioned (wooden stakes, teeth and fangs). The novel achieves life only in scenes of detailed violence, vivid, breathless descriptions of pain and death. Characters ostensibly serve some vaguely spiritual higher good, but as the body count mounts, the ecumenical blather proves to be a fig leaf covering a near-pornographic celebration of all the ways we kill. (Horror. 14 & up)

 

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-9804-4

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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An accomplished, exciting debut.

ALL THE STARS AND TEETH

From the All the Stars and Teeth series , Vol. 1

A princess embarks on a dangerous path to the throne.

In the island kingdom of Visidia, where each person is allowed just one type of magic, only the members of the royal Montara family have the ability to wield the dangerous soul magic. Princess Amora is next in line to be High Animancer, but she must first prove to her people that she is powerful enough to use her magic to protect them. But something goes terribly wrong during a critical public ceremony, and Amora runs away with dashing pirate Bastian, whose rescue comes with a price: She must help him recover his own magic, stolen away by a dangerous man leading a growing rebellion that could bring down the whole kingdom. Debut author Grace wields her own magic with a skillful balancing act between high-stakes adventure (here there be monsters, mermaids, and high-seas shenanigans), bloody fantasy, and character development in a story with a lovable found family at its core. Amora yearns for adventure just as she welcomes her right to command her kingdom; her ferocious sense of duty and legitimate need to do good shine through. The novel’s further unravelling of dark secrets long kept comes with a recognized need for accountability and making amends which adds a thoughtful extra layer to the rich worldbuilding. Amora has copper-brown skin and dark, curly hair; other characters have a range of skin tones in this diverse world.

An accomplished, exciting debut. (guide to the kingdom) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30778-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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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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