A lukewarm retelling of “Beauty and the Beast.”

OF CURSES AND KISSES

From the Rosetta Academy series , Vol. 1

Rajkumari Jaya Rao has one goal during her time at St. Rosetta’s International Academy: to take revenge by breaking the heart of English aristocrat Grey Emerson.

Indian princesses Jaya Rao and her sister, Isha, begin their senior and sophomore years, respectively, at St. Rosetta’s near Aspen, Colorado, a school that has a reputation for well-kept secrets. The Emersons and Raos have had a feud for generations over a ruby that once belonged to the Raos and was stolen by the Emersons in the days of British colonialism. Now Jaya has discovered that the Emersons have dragged her little sister into the feud, and she will not rest until she has gotten her revenge. On a mission to break Grey’s heart, Jaya finds to her surprise that there is more to him than she thought. Grey, on the other hand, has lived as a recluse thanks to Jaya’s great-great-grandmother’s curse that makes his family fear he will die at age 18. Seeing Jaya at St. Rosetta’s wearing a shining ruby pendant fills him with terror. The story is told from the perspectives of both Jaya and Grey. Readers will empathize with both of them, although their long internal monologues may cause their attention to waver at times. Grey is white, and there is diversity among the secondary characters.

A lukewarm retelling of “Beauty and the Beast.” (map) (Romance. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1754-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Entertaining for fans of villain backstories and Disney classics alike.

EVIL THING

A VILLAINS GRAPHIC NOVEL

From the Villains series

A chronicle of Cruella De Vil’s descent into Dalmatian destruction.

The only child of Lord and Lady De Vil, Cruella was enamored by high society life from a young age. She idolized her cold, demanding mother and loved her caring father, despite his giving her less extravagant gifts. Both parents wanted her to distinguish herself, though they intended very different meanings by that word. While young Cruella believed that servants and others from less privileged backgrounds should know their places, Anita, her less socially lofty best friend, was an exception. But as she grew up and married, she had to face the question of what it really meant to possess wealth, beauty, and happiness. Framed as a memoir, this story vividly expresses Cruella’s personality. Valentino does a solid job of establishing the cast of characters, and fans of the animated film will enjoy connecting the threads. While there are moments of softness that evoke readers’ empathy, Cruella unapologetically wields her power to behave cruelly. She is ultimately fueled by her desperation for maternal validation, jealousy, delirium, and a perhaps-cursed pair of earrings. Jovellanos’ art deftly captures a range of emotions, specifically in showing how Cruella’s face is transformed in response to her whims. Using a color palette of muted reds, blacks, grays, and whites, the illustrations express a fitting tone for a Cruella tell-all. Characters read as White.

Entertaining for fans of villain backstories and Disney classics alike. (Graphic fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-06816-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun.

STARSIGHT

From the Skyward series , Vol. 2

As if the threat of huge, raging monsters from hyperspace isn’t scary enough, hotshot fighter pilot Spensa Nightshade becomes embroiled in an alien empire’s politics.

On a desperate mission to steal hyperdrive technology from the crablike invading Krell who are threatening to destroy her beleaguered home colony on Detritus, Spensa, who is white, holographically disguises herself as a violet-skinned UrDail and slips into a Krell pilot training program for “lesser species.” The discovery that she’s being secretly trained not to fight planet-destroying delvers but to exterminate humans, who are (with some justification, having kindled three interstellar wars in past centuries) regarded in certain quarters as an irrationally aggressive species, is just one in a string of revelations as, in between numerous near-death experiences on practice flights, she struggles to understand both her own eerie abilities and the strange multispecies society in which she finds herself. There are so many characters besides Spensa searching for self-identity—notably her comic-relief sidekick AI M-Bot, troubled human friend Jorgen back on Detritus, and Morriumur, member of a species whose color-marked sexes create trial offspring—that even with a plot that defaults to hot action and escalating intrigue the pacing has a stop and start quality. Still, Spensa’s habitual over-the-top recklessness adds a rousing spark, and the author folds in plenty of banter as well as a colorful supporting cast.

Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-55581-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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