Her staggeringly talented twin brother is off to college back east, but Eff, despite her newly discovered magical potential,...

ACROSS THE GREAT BARRIER

From the Frontier Magic series , Vol. 2

Eff, now a young woman, has overcome her fear that she is fatally unlucky; now it's time for her to figure out who she's going to be (Thirteenth Child, 2009).

Her staggeringly talented twin brother is off to college back east, but Eff, despite her newly discovered magical potential, is disinclined to follow. She begins working at the local land-grant college’s menagerie of creatures, both magical and ordinary, from the other side of the Great Barrier Spell. Her intelligence and expertise with animals make her an ideal assistant for an expedition beyond the Barrier, and off she goes into this dangerous, beckoning territory, observing, thinking and growing ever more confident. The other primary members of the expedition, Professor Torgeson from New Vineland, and Washington Morris, the Aphrikan-Columbian circuit-rider magician, provide sturdy support to both Eff and the narrative. Eff is entirely fresh: She has no Destiny, cannot be summed up as "plucky" and discovers herself and her world slowly and naturally. In conceptualizing her Frontier Magic series, Wrede made the controversial decision not to populate her Columbian continent with indigenous peoples. Readers uncomfortable with this will find no hasty palliative change; readers less sensitive to the issue will find themselves grateful for every minute they spend with the deliberate, observant and loving Eff.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-545-03343-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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