Magisterial storytelling will sweep readers along; the cast is as vividly drawn as ever; and big themes running beneath the...

THE BOOK OF DUST

LA BELLE SAUVAGE

From the Book of Dust series , Vol. 1

Pullman’s return to the realms of His Dark Materials moves the timeline back to Lyra’s infancy with a tale of young people struggling against outsized forces of both nature and evil.

It’s a story in two parts, as the author devotes nearly the entire first half to a slow buildup of tension around a certain baby recently consigned to the indulgent sisters of a nearby priory, to setting the cast in place, and to the founding of a network of student informants dubbed the “League of St. Alexander” (after an early convert who consigned his pagan parents to the flames—it’s clear the author continues to wield his anything-but-subtle knife on organized Christianity). Then, impelled by a devastating flood and the attentions of a sinister stranger with a horribly wounded, abused hyena for a daemon, 11-year-old Malcolm Pollstead undertakes a desperate rescue. He bundles the laughing infant into his canoe (named La Belle Sauvage) along with teenage acquaintance Alice Parslow. The terrifying hazards they encounter are natural, unnatural, and even supernatural. The rescue becomes a long flight—part idyll, part nightmare—that ultimately leaves the burbling babe and her daemon, Pantalaimon, ensconced in Jordan College. First, though, come encounters with Lyra’s larger-than-life parents and numerous other characters met in other books in the series, no fewer than three of the world’s six alethiometers, the odd fairy or river god, and a sick, twisted villain whose relentless pursuit leads to a rape in the tale’s most hideously violent episode. Save for a few “gyptians,” the human cast is white. Illustrations not seen.

Magisterial storytelling will sweep readers along; the cast is as vividly drawn as ever; and big themes running beneath the surface invite profound responses and reflection. (Fantasy. 13-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-375-81530-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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Swoonworthy wish fulfillment that checks all the right boxes.

HERE'S TO US

Former boyfriends’ “big Broadway love story” gets a revival in this sequel to What If It’s Us (2018).

Two years after their flash romance, Ben Alejo and Arthur Seuss (both now in college) couldn’t have drifted further apart. But destiny intervenes when Arthur lands his “ultimate top-tier pie-in-the-sky dream job” interning at a queer off-Broadway theater for the summer. Their long-anticipated reunion comes with a small catch: Both boys are basically taken. Ben met Mario in his college creative writing class, and, while they aren’t boyfriends, the connection—and attraction—is definitely there. Arthur’s officially dating Mikey, whose sweetness and steadiness saved him from remaining a “Ben-addled mess.” Cue the confusion—and inevitable broken hearts—as Ben and Arthur contend with their pasts and presents while trying to figure out their futures. Who will end up with whom? Albertalli’s and Silvera’s voices blend seamlessly, balancing the complexities of the boys’ situations with heartfelt (and heartwarming) nostalgia. As in the previous book, the narrative alternates between Ben’s and Arthur’s perspectives with off-the-charts wit and chemistry. Lovable side characters have grown and matured, while new characters expand the world to create an even stronger sense of community. Loose ends are tied up believably with an epilogue. Arthur is Jewish; Ben and Mario are Puerto Rican, and Mikey is White.

Swoonworthy wish fulfillment that checks all the right boxes. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-307163-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary,...

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THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE

The pitiless dictatorship of Francisco Franco examined through the voices of four teenagers: one American and three Spaniards.

The Spanish Civil War lasted from 1936-1939, but Franco held Spain by its throat for 36 years. Sepetys (Salt to the Sea, 2016, etc.) begins her novel in 1957. Daniel is a white Texan who wants to be a photojournalist, not an oilman; Ana is trying to work her way to respectability as a hotel maid; her brother, Rafael, wants to erase memories of an oppressive boys’ home; and Puri is a loving caregiver for babies awaiting adoption—together they provide alternating third-person lenses for viewing Spain during one of its most brutally repressive periods. Their lives run parallel and intersect as each tries to answer questions about truth and the path ahead within a regime that crushes any opposition, murders dissidents, and punishes their families while stealing babies to sell to parents with accepted political views. This formidable story will haunt those who ask hard questions about the past as it reveals the hopes and dreams of individuals in a nation trying to lie its way to the future. Meticulous research is presented through believable, complex characters on the brink of adulthood who personalize the questions we all must answer about our place in the world. 

A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary, photographs) (Historical fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-16031-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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