Readers looking for less exposition and more action in their supernatural fiction might be disappointed, especially by the...

SHADES OF DARKNESS

From the Ravenborn series , Vol. 1

Something terrible happened to Kaira—something so awful that she banished herself.

Islington Arts Academy, a high school for gifted students nestled in the north woods of Michigan, gives Kaira the chance to start over. She wants to forget the past, work on her thesis, and spend as much time as possible with Ethan, her best friend, before senior year ends. Then one student dies, followed by another. The deaths are labeled suicides. But Kaira never ignores an omen, and the crows taking over campus are proof that something sinister from her past has followed her into the present. The novel’s haunting location and use of mythology lead readers to believe that something superbly supernatural is going to occur. However, the story takes too long to arrive at the action, and long portions of the novel are expository passages about Kaira’s past and her odd, flirtatious relationship with Ethan, who is gay. The diverse cast is worth noting, and it’s almost impossible for readers not to identify with one character or another—even if most of the cast comes across as slightly pretentious. Kaira’s facile self-description as an “unknown blend of Native American bloodlines” seems unconvincing given the importance of specific heritage to tribal benefits.

Readers looking for less exposition and more action in their supernatural fiction might be disappointed, especially by the book’s sequel-bait cliffhanger ending. (Suspense. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3257-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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An enticing, turbulent, and satisfying final voyage.

THE NOBLEMAN'S GUIDE TO SCANDAL AND SHIPWRECKS

From the Montague Siblings series , Vol. 3

Adrian, the youngest of the Montague siblings, sails into tumultuous waters in search of answers about himself, the sudden death of his mother, and her mysterious, cracked spyglass.

On the summer solstice less than a year ago, Caroline Montague fell off a cliff in Aberdeen into the sea. When the Scottish hostel where she was staying sends a box of her left-behind belongings to London, Adrian—an anxious, White nobleman on the cusp of joining Parliament—discovers one of his mother’s most treasured possessions, an antique spyglass. She acquired it when she was the sole survivor of a shipwreck many years earlier. His mother always carried that spyglass with her, but on the day of her death, she had left it behind in her room. Although he never knew its full significance, Adrian is haunted by new questions and is certain the spyglass will lead him to the truth. Once again, Lee crafts an absorbing adventure with dangerous stakes, dynamic character growth, sharp social and political commentary, and a storm of emotion. Inseparable from his external search for answers about his mother, Adrian seeks a solution for himself, an end to his struggle with mental illness—a journey handled with hopeful, gentle honesty that validates the experiences of both good and bad days. Characters from the first two books play significant secondary roles, and the resolution ties up their loose ends. Humorous antics provide a well-measured balance with the heavier themes.

An enticing, turbulent, and satisfying final voyage. (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291601-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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