Too complicated to engage.

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THE LAZARUS MACHINE

From the Tweed & Nightingale series , Vol. 1

A series opener, Crilley’s steampunk adventure follows an unlikely duo to the underworld of Victorian London.

Coldly rational and from the bad part of town, Tweed is 17 when his father is kidnapped. Headstrong and highborn, Octavia is about the same age, only her mother has been missing a year, so she has had more time to gather facts on the likely culprits. A nebulous Ministry is at the center of their suspicions, as are the resurrected characters of Professor Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes and a nefarious mastermind. Octavia’s father turns a blind eye to her comings and goings, and Tweed has no mother, but the two receive help from a mildly entertaining couple Tweed and his father know. This seemingly low-bred pair of lovebirds adds one of the few human touches to a story that is too full of gadgets and machinations for most readers to keep track of. The primary action of the book is a break-in at the Ministry beneath London that Tweed and Octavia execute with success, only to find all is not what they expected. Though the style of writing is simple and engaging enough, the story itself goes in too many directions to follow, leaving open too many loose ends for readers to know exactly what they are looking for in the next installment.

Too complicated to engage. (Steampunk. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61614-688-7

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Pyr/Prometheus Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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

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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

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Powerful, captivating, and raw—Adeyemi is a talent to watch. Exceptional

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CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE

From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 1

Seventeen-year-old Zélie and companions journey to a mythic island seeking a chance to bring back magic to the land of Orïsha, in a fantasy world infused with the textures of West Africa.

Dark-skinned Zélie is a divîner—someone with latent magical abilities indicated by the distinctive white hair that sets them apart from their countrymen. She saves Princess Amari, who is on the run from her father, King Saran, after stealing the scroll that can transform divîners into magic-wielding maji, and the two flee along with Zélie’s brother. The scroll vanished 11 years ago during the king’s maji genocide, and Prince Inan, Amari’s brother, is sent in hot pursuit. When the trio learns that the impending solstice offers the only chance of restoring magic through a connection to Nana Baruku, the maternal creator deity, they race against time—and Inan—to obtain the final artifact needed for their ritual. Over the course of the book allegiances shift and characters grow, change, and confront traumas culminating in a cliffhanger ending that will leave readers anxiously awaiting the next installment. Well-drawn characters, an intense plot, and deft writing make this a strong story. That it is also a timely study on race, colorism, power, and injustice makes it great.

Powerful, captivating, and raw—Adeyemi is a talent to watch. Exceptional . (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17097-2

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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