From the Guardians of Tarnec series , Vol. 1

A young seer discovers her destiny in this opener for a new fantasy series.

Timid Lark, rendered vulnerable by her prophetic Sight, prefers solitary gardening to adventure. Yet after a vision in which bestial Troths devastate her village, she bravely agrees to seek aid from the mysterious Riders. At their stronghold in Tarnec, Lark is stunned to be hailed as one of the destined Guardians of Balance, bound to seek the stolen orb of Life. She’s paired with the inexplicably hostile Gharain (quite literally the man of her dreams), who she foresees will break her heart…and kill her. The refreshingly original magical system of this world allows for images of aching beauty, describing Lark’s connection to the Earth and all its creatures. Unfortunately, Lark herself is vacillating, weepy and prone to bouts of melodramatic self-pity. Her successful use of her powers seems more lucky coincidence and authorial fiat than any personal strength. Her torrid romance with Gharain (who exhibits no discernible personality whatsoever) feels equally forced, and the remaining characters are bland, spouting unnatural dialogue constructed of stilted aphorisms and cryptic hints. The slow pacing of the first half accelerates into an exciting climax filled with lurid torture, grisly violence and genuine courage. Unfortunately, the denouement simply waves away all obstacles to a fairy-tale conclusion, leaving just enough dangling to set up the obvious sequels.

Disappointing. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-449-81748-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes


From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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In an unnamed country (a thinly veiled Philippines), three teenage boys pick trash for a meager living. A bag of cash in the trash might be—well, not their ticket out of poverty but at least a minor windfall. With 1,100 pesos, maybe they can eat chicken occasionally, instead of just rice. Gardo and Raphael are determined not to give any of it to the police who've been sniffing around, so they enlist their friend Rat. In alternating and tightly paced points of view, supplemented by occasional other voices, the boys relate the intrigue in which they're quickly enmeshed. A murdered houseboy, an orphaned girl, a treasure map, a secret code, corrupt politicians and 10,000,000 missing dollars: It all adds up to a cracker of a thriller. Sadly, the setting relies on Third World poverty tourism for its flavor, as if this otherwise enjoyable caper were being told by Olivia, the story's British charity worker who muses with vacuous sentimentality on the children that "break your heart" and "change your life." Nevertheless, a zippy and classic briefcase-full-of-money thrill ride. (Thriller. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-75214-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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