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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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes


From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 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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