THE INFERIOR

Though most of the blood and horror in this turgid dystopian romance stays between the lines, there’s still enough seeping out to disturb all but the most hardened readers. Into the young hunter Stopmouth’s world, in which humans and intelligent beasts survive by butchering and eating one another indiscriminately, falls Indrani—a beautiful stranger from the vegetarian, high-tech civilization living in the glowing Roof overhead. Stopmouth is an archetypal Innocent Hero who, thanks to Indrani’s efforts to hide the truth, takes hundreds of pages to learn that he and all the groundlings are modified animals deliberately set against each other for the entertainment of the Roof people—a gory, world-sized version of Survivor. The action scenes are compelling, but so stingy is the author with background information or physical descriptions that the premise and setting (a huge cave? a space colony? a “generation” ship?) are likely to be totally enigmatic to young readers. In the end the lovers are parted, and wasplike Diggers who plant their teeming young in living victims arrive on the scene—sure signs of an equally icky sequel. No rush. (Science fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: June 10, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-385-75145-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2008

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Fan-service? Yes—and fans will rejoice in every dark, luscious moment.

HOW THE KING OF ELFHAME LEARNED TO HATE STORIES

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 3.5

Once upon a time....

In Faerie, a cruel prince met his match in Jude, a human raised in his world. An entire trilogy tells their tale from her perspective; now the prince gets center stage. This lavishly illustrated tome, more a series of vignettes than a complete novel, shows critical moments in Cardan’s life, including moments previously seen through Jude’s perspective. The entirety is framed within a moment that takes place after the end of The Queen of Nothing (2019), providing a glimpse into the maturing relationships between Jude and Cardan and between Cardan and his responsibilities as High King of Elfhame, a land whose multihued, multiformed denizens cannot lie. Woven throughout are three iterations of a story, initially told to a young Cardan, each version different in specifics and moral but all centered on a boy with a heart of stone and a monstrous, cursed bride. Readers familiar with Cardan and Jude’s tumultuous and sometimes troubling love will recognize notes within this repeated tale, but each telling also stands alone as a complete tale, one that feels both inevitable and fresh. Black continues to build an ever expanding mythos with her Faerie stories, and while this volume requires prior knowledge of The Folk of the Air trilogy, it offers new delights along with familiar moments retold.

Fan-service? Yes—and fans will rejoice in every dark, luscious moment. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-54088-9

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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