Slow-moving but ultimately a satisfying addition to this inventive, character-driven fantasy series.

SONG OF THE DEAD

From the Reign of the Fallen series , Vol. 2

One threat against Karthia may have been vanquished, but new dangers are on the horizon for the kingdom of magic and necromancers.

This sequel picks up moments after the first book concludes, with Odessa sailing away from Karthia after killing the tyrannous king. However, the brown-skinned master necromancer quickly returns following a call for help from her friend and new queen, pale-skinned Valoria. Her subjects are pushing back violently against Valoria’s inventions and changes, particularly her edict that the Dead will no longer be raised to reside among the living. This and other conflicts escalate slowly, but the major threat—Ezoran invaders heading toward Karthia—is distant rather than immediate, leaving the story without a major conflict driving it forward. The strength here instead lies in inventive worldbuilding and interactions between the dynamic cast of characters. Marsh (Reign of the Fallen, 2018, etc.) introduces surprising new magic and pushes the boundaries of what readers—or characters—believed possible. Some additions are overly convenient but undeniably fun—such as the dog-sized dragon Nipper, who latches on to Odessa and offers multiple plot-essential abilities. The already robust cast, diverse in both race and sexual orientation, is joined by new faces. Bisexual Odessa deepens her relationship with the pale-skinned beast master Meredy, while both girls cope with grief for lost loved ones.

Slow-moving but ultimately a satisfying addition to this inventive, character-driven fantasy series. (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-448-49442-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

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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Vivid, chilling, and important.

NONE SHALL SLEEP

Two 18-year-olds with traumatic pasts become entangled in a high-stakes manhunt for a serial killer targeting teenagers.

Emma Lewis isn’t your average psychology undergrad (and not just because she has a buzz cut). Two and a half years ago, she escaped a serial killer’s clutches and then helped the authorities apprehend him. Now a student at Ohio State, she’s been recruited for her unique qualifications by an agent in the FBI’s Behavioral Science department to spend the summer interviewing juvenile offenders. Alongside trainee Travis Bell, whose late father was killed while apprehending one of their subjects, Emma reluctantly ventures into the minds of teenage killers—and must confront her own past when one of the subjects offers unexpected insight into the motives of a new killer known as the Butcher. Set in the early 1980s, narrated in present tense, and told through Emma’s perspective as well as others’ (including the Butcher’s), the tightly plotted story moves inexorably forward with shocking twists alongside clear, applicable descriptions of the cognitive behavioral strategies Emma uses to navigate her PTSD. The narrative is critical of law enforcement work, emphasizing its psychological toll, and the '80s cultural references are handled with a light touch. Emma is white while Travis is cued as biracial (Mexican American and white); although most secondary characters appear white, two key figures are people of color.

Vivid, chilling, and important. (author's note) (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49783-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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