A gritty teen betrays his father and flees his grim existence in a post–global-warming Gulf Coast village to protect a young woman he barely knows in this gripping futuristic thriller. Fifteen-year-old Nailer works on the “light crew” as a ship breaker, salvaging metals from abandoned oil tankers. Nailer’s vicious father routinely beats him. In this violent world where people do anything for money, Nailer’s future seems bleak until he discovers Nina, the wealthy, attractive survivor of a shipwreck. Rather than kill Nina and steal the salvage, Nailer opts to save her, triggering a harrowing journey to the submerged cities of Orleans to find people loyal to Nina. As Nailer experiences brutal betrayals, he relies on his wits and learns the people worth calling family are the ones who “[cover] your back.... Everything else [is] just so much smoke and lies.” In Bacigalupi’s defiled, depressing landscape populated by mercenary humans and mechanical dog-men, Nailer’s loyalty offers hope. Told in the third person, this stark, surreal story sends an alarm to heed the warning signs of climate change or suffer a similar fate. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-316-05621-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2010

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Well, most people are probably reading these books for Warner anyway.


From the Shatter Me series , Vol. 3

Fighting an oppressive regime is an afterthought in this conclusion to Mafi’s romantic trilogy.

Unravel Me (2013) left the resistance thoroughly trounced. Juliette’s barely escaped death at the hands of Warner’s father, and she’s rescued and hidden by Warner on the base. In a refrain familiar to the series’ readers, Juliette again vows to fight back, for real this time, and to destroy the Reestablishment. But first, she must romance Warner and find out what’s become of her Omega Point friends. Romancing Warner is easy: Warner’s early, frequent, lengthy monologues explain how Juliette misinterpreted nearly every villainous thing Warner has ever done. It’s even easier after Juliette reunites with the Omega Point survivors, finds Adam and gets a taste of his new, jerk personality. Broad strokes destroy any complexity, mystery or tension in the love triangle. Many of the most interesting and difficult moments, such as a conversation between Adam and Warner about their parentage, are glossed over in favor of the repetitive sharing of emotions. A high page count gives the novel physical if not psychological weight and includes such padding as Juliette’s lengthy musings on a bar of soap. After all this, the end is all too easy, for characters anyway.

Well, most people are probably reading these books for Warner anyway. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-208557-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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More terrific combat scenes, but a bit too heavy on character development to fly at speed.


From the Skyward series , Vol. 3

The third episode in the Skyward series sees red-hot space pilot Spensa Nightshade coming into her full powers as she battles both pirates and space monsters in a strange interdimensional nowhere.

Leaving her ongoing feud with evil galactic overlords on temporary hold back in the somewhere, Spensa passes through a portal to a realm where time and memories tend to slip away, bits of landscape randomly snipped from reality float like islands around a distant sunburst—and teeming hordes of disembodied, malevolent entities called delvers are relentlessly hunting her down. Fun as all the space-opera elements are, though, they continue a trend from the preceding volume in deadening the efforts of Spensa and sidekicks old and new to establish personal identities or backstories, wrestle with inner demons, or, in the case of the AI M-Bot, practice insults and deal with newly discovered emotions. A few wild aerial dogfights and larger battles later, however, Spensa has come into her cytonic superpowers, found out some crucial things about the delvers, and made her way back to the somewhere. Now for those overlords….McSweeney contributes a map, lovingly detailed sets of spaceship plans, and galleries of the multispecies cast members. Wild diversity of intergalactic body types notwithstanding, human members seem uniformly White.

More terrific combat scenes, but a bit too heavy on character development to fly at speed. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-55585-5

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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