Centurion Alexios Flavius Aquila, nephew of the Dux Britanniarum (Roman Governor of Northern Britain) and therefore, at 23, second in command of a fort, becomes first when the commander is killed in a raid by native tribes. Against standing orders and the advice of an older and wiser subordinate, Alexios panics and orders a retreat that proves disastrous. In disgrace, then, he is sent to command a Northern outpost of Frontier Wolves, most recruited from neighboring tribes and together a close-knit, rough, and independent unit with its own determined ways. Alexios, though, has learned to heed the comments of his officers and the moods and customs of his men—and so, in strong, expertly modulated scenes, he gains their respect, obtains his own wolf cloak as the others have, and wins the friendship of Cunorix, eldest son of the local chieftain and soon chieftain himself. The trouble comes a year after Alexios' arrival, when an insensitive new Praepositus (regional commander) arrives for an inspection tour. His beautiful horse is stolen "half in jest" by Cunorix's impetuous brother Connla, and the Praepositus has Connla executed in retaliation. Thus it is that, when invading tribes attack the fort next morning, Cunorix's local tribesmen are among them. This time, it takes "almost more courage than [Alexios] possessed" to order evacuation, and as much endurance to shepherd the men to safety, wounded and all, through much battling and one inevitably tragic man-to-man contest between Alexios and his friend Cunorix. As always, Sutcliff brings the frontier society of "wolves" and tribesmen to powerful, three-dimensional life and makes their trials and decisions matter urgently.

Pub Date: April 14, 1981

ISBN: 1590785940

Page Count: 254

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1981

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A resounding success.

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This literary DeLorean transports readers into the past, where they hope, dream, and struggle alongside beloved characters from Thomas’ The Hate U Give (2017).

The tale begins in 1998 Garden Heights, when Starr’s parents, Maverick and Lisa, are high school seniors in love and planning for the future. Thomas proves Game of Thrones–esque in her worldbuilding ability, deepening her landscape without sacrificing intimacy or heart. Garden Heights doesn’t contain dragons or sorcerers, but it’s nevertheless a kingdom under siege, and the contemporary pressures its royalty faces are graver for the realness that no magic spell can alleviate. Mav’s a prince whose family prospects are diminished due to his father’s federally mandated absence. He and his best friend, King, are “li’l homies,” lower in status and with everything to prove, especially after Mav becomes a father. In a world where masculinity and violence are inextricably linked to power, the boys’ very identities are tied to the fathers whose names they bear and with whose legacies they must contend. Mav laments, “I ain’t as hard as my pops, ain’t as street as my pops,” but measuring up to that legacy ends in jail or the grave. Worthy prequels make readers invest as though meeting characters for the first time; here they learn more about the intricate hierarchies and alliances within the King Lord gang and gain deeper insight into former ancillary characters, particularly Mav’s parents, King, and Iesha. Characters are Black.

A resounding success. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-284671-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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