Not much here for readers looking for an engaging supernatural adventure

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ECHOES OF MEMORY

From the Ravenborn series , Vol. 2

This sequel to Shades of Darkness (2016) follows Chris and Kaira, friends caught between mystical god-beings who fight over possession of their souls.

After Chris, a white boy, is found at the scene of the most recent of a string of murders at their boarding school, he’s haunted by the voices of birds who tell him that he is the Endbringer. A godlike being tells him that it is his destiny to kill Kaira, the girl he wants to save. Kaira, dark-skinned and generically Native American, has fallen desperately ill. Kaira finds herself in an underworld where a different being tells her she is the Shadechild and that she must kill Chris. In this underworld, gods are bound to feed the sacred Tree, which thrives only when fed with blood offered via human sacrifice. Chris’ and Kaira’s fates are intertwined, as both feel a determination to resist the pressure to kill each other, and it is only together that they might release themselves from the gods that claim them. The concept of this Norse-inflected paranormal is stronger than the actual read. The narrative stalls through lackluster pages in which little happens but angst, as if the author needs filler to get readers to the protagonists’ visits with the underworld gods, scenes that are disappointingly dull and lead to a sequel-bait ending.

Not much here for readers looking for an engaging supernatural adventure . (Suspense. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3260-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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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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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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