A slasher flick spliced with Crime and Punishment, this engrossing debut novel asks complex philosophical questions in a...

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NOT EVEN BONES

From the Market of Monsters series , Vol. 1

An adolescent, yet Nietzschean, examination of humanity and horror.

Nita is a monster. Literally. She can heal her own wounds and even block her pain receptors. But she and her mother also deal in monsters, species regulated by the International Non-Human Police, selling their body parts on the black market. Her ghoulish mother hunts and kills, while Nita dissects them with a meditative grace, trying to think of herself as innocent. But when Nita’s conscience inconveniently prevents her from vivisecting a live specimen, she’s kidnapped and taken to the Amazon, caged by people in the same business. Menaced by a zannie (creatures that feed off physical pain) and a ruthless woman, Nita, who is mixed species (with a brown-skinned human father and a nonhuman mother), has to figure out how to escape and whether she has any morals to live by. The vivid setting, Mercado de la Muerte (one of several Death Markets worldwide) in a sweltering South American jungle populated by buyers, sellers, and sold, is matched by a zipping plot interspersed with deliciously horrifying and gory scenes of dismemberment and destruction. Equally intriguing is the constant musing on what makes a monster, how people respond to trauma and control, and how one’s choices affirm or deny one’s own humanity.

A slasher flick spliced with Crime and Punishment, this engrossing debut novel asks complex philosophical questions in a pleasingly hard-to-stomach way. (Fantasy. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-86354-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Only marginally intriguing.

REDEMPTION PREP

In a remote part of Utah, in a “temple of excellence,” the best of the best are recruited to nurture their talents.

Redemption Preparatory is a cross between the Vatican and a top-secret research facility: The school is rooted in Christian ideology (but very few students are Christian), Mass is compulsory, cameras capture everything, and “maintenance” workers carry Tasers. When talented poet Emma disappears, three students, distrusting of the school administration, launch their own investigation. Brilliant chemist Neesha believes Emma has run away to avoid taking the heat for the duo’s illegal drug enterprise. Her boyfriend, an athlete called Aiden, naturally wants to find her. Evan, a chess prodigy who relies on patterns and has difficulty processing social signals, believes he knows Emma better than anyone. While the school is an insidious character on its own and the big reveal is slightly psychologically disturbing, Evan’s positioning as a tragic hero with an uncertain fate—which is connected to his stalking of Emma (even before her disappearance)—is far more unsettling. The ’90s setting provides the backdrop for tongue-in-cheek technological references but doesn’t do anything for the plot. Student testimonials and voice-to-text transcripts punctuate the three-way third-person narration that alternates among Neesha, Evan, and Aiden. Emma, Aiden, and Evan are assumed to be white; Neesha is Indian. Students are from all over the world, including Asia and the Middle East.

Only marginally intriguing. (Mystery. 15-18)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266203-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Crackling with energy, just the ticket for an all-night read.

THIS SAVAGE SONG

Natural enemies find themselves reluctant allies in a war-torn, monstrous future.

Schwab’s latest seems poised to grab both her adult and teen readers; the world is fascinating (if sometimes a little thin—education and technology are almost exactly the same in this future), the characters complicated, and the political machinations and emotional depths both charged and compelling. The scene: an isolated supercity in former middle America, populated by the evil Corsai and Malchai and the more complicated Sunai, who can kill only those who have killed (and must do so regularly to maintain their semblance of humanity); all have been born from moments of violence. Against this, Kate Harker (fair-haired, partially deaf, inclined to arson and spying) returns to appease and impress her father, who controls the Malchai and half the city. Across town, Sunai August (seemingly 16, black haired and gray-eyed, a monster who tries to be human) wants his adoptive father’s side to succeed in creating a better world. Family and interpersonal dynamics, questions of good and evil, horrifying monsters (some of them human), and moments of violence both graphic and poetic serve as backdrop to a growing sense of kinship between Kate and August, who want a better world—but probably won’t get one, based on the zinger of an ending.

Crackling with energy, just the ticket for an all-night read. (Futuristic fantasy/horror. 15 & up)

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-238085-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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