Rachelle’s flaws make her an incredibly sympathetic character; though her romance is not so compelling, the unusual,...

READ REVIEW

CRIMSON BOUND

A high fantasy loosely based on “Little Red Riding Hood” and the less well-known “The Girl with No Hands.”

Hoping to save the world, 15-year-old Rachelle defiantly leaves the safe forest path to speak with a forestborn—one of those humans who gained supernatural powers by accepting the Devourer as their lord. The forestborn marks Rachelle: In three days’ time she must either kill and become a bloodbound—destined to become a forestborn—or be killed. Rachelle kills, and the story of the killing is revealed as she grapples with debilitating guilt. Three years later, Rachelle is one of the king’s bloodbound. When she discovers the Devourer will soon return, she redoubles her efforts to find the sword that can defeat him. However, orders to protect the king’s illegitimate son, Armand, impede her search. Predictably, Rachelle falls in love with Armand, causing a love triangle to form between the pair and the rakish Erec, captain of the king’s bloodbound. Though Armand is likable enough, Rachelle’s love feels sudden and unfounded, and thus it’s never entirely convincing. A fairy tale that’s critical to understanding Rachelle’s ultimate task is interspersed throughout, and in a refreshing departure from the norm, the complexity of the conclusion matches the magnitude of the foe faced.

Rachelle’s flaws make her an incredibly sympathetic character; though her romance is not so compelling, the unusual, intricately woven story and themes make for a worthwhile read . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-222476-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 25

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating

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

Did you like this book?

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more