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NUBIA

THE AWAKENING

A justifiable critique of today that falls flat in imagining tomorrow.

In 2098, as Nubian teens awaken to immense supernatural powers, they may become their people’s saving grace—or confirm the prejudices of those who vilify them.

The struggling Nubian Quarter, dubbed the Swamp, which exists in the remnants of lower Manhattan behind a precarious sea wall, houses Black and brown Caribbean refugees displaced by the climate emergencies of the 2080s. More privileged New Yorkers largely live in the Up High, a floating Jetsons-like marvel of future tech, away from the gang violence and rampant drug use. At High School 104, bookish Uzochi tries to ignore the biased, selectively taught history, remaining committed to his academic goals as a path out of the Swamp. When his powers of telepathy emerge, the accompanying responsibility is daunting. His cousin, Lencho, caught up in gang life, develops the ability to drain people’s energy; he turns away from family and community in pursuit of power. Zuberi’s powers allow her to see spirits and people’s futures, but even she is unprepared for the coming threat. As powers once thought lost forever are rediscovered by younger Nubians, evil, manipulative Up High architect Krazen St. John aims to exploit them for his own purposes—and Lencho is particularly vulnerable to his lies and machinations. Throughout, connections between Nubians and the African diaspora are implied but confusingly explained in this near-future account of racial injustice that errs on the side of underexplained fantasy tropes.

A justifiable critique of today that falls flat in imagining tomorrow. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-42864-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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CHILDREN OF ANGUISH AND ANARCHY

From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 3

A thrilling, climactic storm with an abrupt conclusion.

In this much-anticipated trilogy closer following 2019’s Children of Virtue and Vengeance, an enemy from a land across the sea carries out conquests to fulfill a prophecy that threatens the entire world.

The war between the maji and the crown of Orïsha ends when the Skulls, a tribe of masked, pale-skinned invaders, interrupt the pivotal battle, abducting Zélie, Tzain, Amari, Inan, and dozens of maji from their homeland. Caged on a ship and cut off from their magic, they have no choice but to set aside their bitterness and distrust to fight for their freedom. Ruthless and empowered by the volatile magic of bloodmetal weapons, the Skulls hunt for Zélie, “a girl with the blood of the sun,” at the command of their king, Baldyr, who prepares for his ascension to godhood during the Blood Moon. As much as she longs to return home, visions and an intertwined fate pull Zélie, along with her companions, to the land of New Gaīa in search of a girl with russet-brown skin and eyes that glitter like diamonds. United goals, fresh conflict, and impending doom provide invigorating gusts of momentum that push the story out of the doldrums of the previous book. On its own, this installment is a suspenseful and compelling expansion of the world, but as a series finale, the conflict seems disconnected from the first two books, and the resolution feels rushed.

A thrilling, climactic storm with an abrupt conclusion. (guide to clans) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 25, 2024

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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