Likely headed for the best-seller lists—but not on its merits.


From the Lorien Legacies series , Vol. 4

“Lore” (aka James Frey) moves his ponderous, jumbled science-fiction epic forward an inch by dropping a traitor into the band of superpowered refugees charged with saving Earth from evil aliens.

The tale has already become so complicated that even confirmed series fans may welcome the long, sluggish stretches of hanging out, fretting, flirting, bickering and undisguised recaps. These are packed in between the paltry number of violent but widely spaced encounters with brutish Mogadorian invaders. Here, the already indigestibly large cast of teenage Loriens and their human helpers gains three and loses one as two chancy new allies, multiple gems with mystical properties, prophetic visions of terrifying doom, ravening monsters, mysterious scars and hints of new powers arrive to add more flimsy trinkets to the literary flea market. Confusingly, three of the Loriens switch off as first-person narrators but are given (whether from authorial inertia or incompetence) indistinguishable voices. Following the climactic denouement, the young heroes end up more or less where they were in the previous episode: split up and on the run. Sample chapters, not labeled as such, from three spinoff novellas are appended.

Likely headed for the best-seller lists—but not on its merits. (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-197461-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...


From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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In an unnamed country (a thinly veiled Philippines), three teenage boys pick trash for a meager living. A bag of cash in the trash might be—well, not their ticket out of poverty but at least a minor windfall. With 1,100 pesos, maybe they can eat chicken occasionally, instead of just rice. Gardo and Raphael are determined not to give any of it to the police who've been sniffing around, so they enlist their friend Rat. In alternating and tightly paced points of view, supplemented by occasional other voices, the boys relate the intrigue in which they're quickly enmeshed. A murdered houseboy, an orphaned girl, a treasure map, a secret code, corrupt politicians and 10,000,000 missing dollars: It all adds up to a cracker of a thriller. Sadly, the setting relies on Third World poverty tourism for its flavor, as if this otherwise enjoyable caper were being told by Olivia, the story's British charity worker who muses with vacuous sentimentality on the children that "break your heart" and "change your life." Nevertheless, a zippy and classic briefcase-full-of-money thrill ride. (Thriller. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-75214-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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