If this book isn’t quite a masterpiece, it’s certainly a treasure, and that’s more than enough.

READ REVIEW

THE SLEEPER AND THE SPINDLE

Is it fair to expect a masterpiece when Gaiman and Riddell work together? Probably.

The two men have collaborated on a number of books published in the U.K., to great success. The illustrations in Fortunately, the Milk are a marvel of draftsmanship, and Coraline and The Graveyard Book are considered classics. Other artists illustrated the books in the U.S., quite beautifully, but the British editions are objects of envy for many fans. This new collaboration is a spectacular art object. Almost every page is decorated with gold leaf. Even the page numbers have gold filigree. The story combines two fairy tales, and it contains two startling ideas. Snow White, after years in a sleeping spell, might not be affected by the enchantment placed on Sleeping Beauty. And, more important, after her adventures in the woods, Snow White might find sitting on a throne as dull as lying in a glass coffin. The villainess, unfortunately, distracts from those ideas. She’s just another sorceress in a fantasy book, one in a long line of evildoers who want youth and power—but this is a fairy tale, after all. The gorgeous, art nouveau–inspired black-and-white drawings, many of which seem to consciously echo such divergent talents as Arthur Rackham and Robert Lawson, however, are magnificent, and a few sentences describing sleepwalkers who speak in unison may haunt readers for years.

If this book isn’t quite a masterpiece, it’s certainly a treasure, and that’s more than enough. (Fairy tale. 11-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-239824-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Fear the reaper(s)…but relish this intelligent and entertaining blend of dark humor and high death tolls.

THUNDERHEAD

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 2

Death proves impermanent in this sequel to Scythe (2016).

In a world run by the (almost) all-powerful and (almost) omniscient artificial intelligence Thunderhead, only the Honorable Scythes deal permanent death to near-immortal humans. Yet a growing contingent of scythes, feared and flattered by society and operating outside the Thunderhead’s control, are proving rather dishonorable. No longer apprentices, 18-year-olds Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch realize “the scythedom is…high school with murder” as they watch their fellow scythes jockey for power and prestige. Citra now gleans as Scythe Anastasia, questioning the status quo but also opposing the homicidally enthusiastic “new-order” scythes and their dangerous demagogue. Self-appointed as Scythe Lucifer, Rowan hunts other scythes whom he deems corrupt. Meanwhile, the existentially troubled Thunderhead questions its role as both creation and caretaker of humanity, sworn not to take life but fearing that its utopia will otherwise collapse into dystopia. Nationality and race are minimally mentioned—ethnic biases and genocide are considered very gauche—yet a population that defies death, aging, sickness, poverty, and war risks becoming bleakly homogenous, alleviated only by “unsavories” and scythes. This sequel digs deeper into Shusterman’s complex world and complicated characters, offering political maneuvering, fatal conspiracies, and impending catastrophe via a slowly unfurling plot and startling bursts of action.

Fear the reaper(s)…but relish this intelligent and entertaining blend of dark humor and high death tolls. (Science fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7245-7

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more