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THESE DEATHLESS SHORES

The grown-up Peter Pan sequel readers needed all along.

A pair of former Lost Boys return to the Island to steal a famous fairy.

Peter’s roster of Lost Boys never changes; when one Boy grows up, Peter simply collects another to take his name and place. That rule once allowed unrelated best friends Jordan and Baron to join as “the Twins.” Sure, Jordan had to pretend to be a boy and use Dust to glamour her missing hand, but it was worth it for a life on the Island. Years after her first menstrual period outed her and nearly cost her her life, Jordan is a famed underground fighter with a mean drug addiction. Half a decade of heavy Dust use has left her reliant on a street drug—and the landlord-dealer who supplies it—to get by. Determined to get out from under his thumb, Jordan hatches a plan to return to the Island with Baron and steal Tink from Peter. Complicating her endeavor is the fact that no grown-up has ever gone to the Island and lived to tell the tale. But Jordan may just be the only person ambitious enough to succeed. And when she takes up the pirate captain’s hook, well, that’s where the story really takes off. Low walks a knife’s edge here, remaining faithful to Barrie’s original work while transplanting it into an invented world. The novel showcases the brutality of the Lost Boys’ existence, as members of their little tribe kill wantonly. Peter comes off as particularly frightening here. Readers will recall his line in Barrie’s novel, “I forget them after I kill them,” as they watch him cull the followers who have grown too old and make Dust from his victims’ ground bones. Intersectionality abounds. Jordan has a congenital limb difference and a complicated relationship to her gender identity. Baron lives with intense anxiety, as well as suicidal ideations. Both heroes are Chinese-coded.

The grown-up Peter Pan sequel readers needed all along.

Pub Date: July 9, 2024

ISBN: 9780316569200

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Orbit

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2024

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FOURTH WING

From the Empyrean series , Vol. 1

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

On the orders of her mother, a woman goes to dragon-riding school.

Even though her mother is a general in Navarre’s army, 20-year-old Violet Sorrengail was raised by her father to follow his path as a scribe. After his death, though, Violet's mother shocks her by forcing her to enter the elite and deadly dragon rider academy at Basgiath War College. Most students die at the War College: during training sessions, at the hands of their classmates, or by the very dragons they hope to one day be paired with. From Day One, Violet is targeted by her classmates, some because they hate her mother, others because they think she’s too physically frail to succeed. She must survive a daily gauntlet of physical challenges and the deadly attacks of classmates, which she does with the help of secret knowledge handed down by her two older siblings, who'd been students there before her. Violet is at the mercy of the plot rather than being in charge of it, hurtling through one obstacle after another. As a result, the story is action-packed and fast-paced, but Violet is a strange mix of pure competence and total passivity, always managing to come out on the winning side. The book is categorized as romantasy, with Violet pulled between the comforting love she feels from her childhood best friend, Dain Aetos, and the incendiary attraction she feels for family enemy Xaden Riorson. However, the way Dain constantly undermines Violet's abilities and his lack of character development make this an unconvincing storyline. The plots and subplots aren’t well-integrated, with the first half purely focused on Violet’s training, followed by a brief detour for romance, and then a final focus on outside threats.

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374042

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Red Tower

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2024

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IRON FLAME

From the Empyrean series , Vol. 2

Unrelenting, and not in a good way.

A young Navarrian woman faces even greater challenges in her second year at dragon-riding school.

Violet Sorrengail did all the normal things one would do as a first-year student at Basgiath War College: made new friends, fell in love, and survived multiple assassination attempts. She was also the first rider to ever bond with two dragons: Tairn, a powerful black dragon with a distinguished battle history, and Andarna, a baby dragon too young to carry a rider. At the end of Fourth Wing (2023), Violet and her lover, Xaden Riorson, discovered that Navarre is under attack from wyvern, evil two-legged dragons, and venin, soulless monsters that harvest energy from the ground. Navarrians had always been told that these were monsters of legend and myth, not real creatures dangerously close to breaking through Navarre’s wards and attacking civilian populations. In this overly long sequel, Violet, Xaden, and their dragons are determined to find a way to protect Navarre, despite the fact that the army and government hid the truth about these creatures. Due to the machinations of several traitorous instructors at Basgiath, Xaden and Violet are separated for most of the book—he’s stationed at a distant outpost, leaving her to handle the treacherous, cutthroat world of the war college on her own. Violet is repeatedly threatened by her new vice commandant, a brutal man who wants to silence her. Although Violet and her dragons continue to model extreme bravery, the novel feels repetitive and more than a little sloppy, leaving obvious questions about the world unanswered. The book is full of action and just as full of plot holes, including scenes that are illogical or disconnected from the main narrative. Secondary characters are ignored until a scene requires them to assist Violet or to be killed in the endless violence that plagues their school.

Unrelenting, and not in a good way.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374172

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Red Tower

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2024

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