Faced with the inconsistent plotting, indifference to geography and climate, and sloppy execution, readers are more likely...

ICELING

Discovered by scientists in the Canadian Arctic and later adopted, a group of speechless but intense and powerful teens compel their older siblings to return them to that site a decade and a half later.

With their scientist parents in Ecuador, Lorna, 17, is responsible for her sister, Callie, an Arctic Recovery Orphan. Constructing an ingenious model of their destination (à la Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Callie persuades Lorna to take her there. Lorna and Stan, whose ARO brother is similarly obsessed, shoulder the task. Packing snacks, warm clothes, and phone charger, the four leave Pennsylvania—guided by the AROs (Lorna names them Icelings)—and head northeast, meeting and joining with other sibling groups along the way. At a police checkpoint, only those traveling with AROs are permitted to cross into Canada. One driver, Bobby, might know what’s at stake, but he’s not sharing. Lorna, Stan, and the rest, mystified but loyal, follow their siblings’ leads. Readers will be equally confused: by the strange geography (Meat Cove, Nova Scotia, is nowhere near the Arctic) and confusing, contradictory plot. Long interior monologues fail to explain Lorna’s senseless—at times, risibly so—choices. Otherworldly discoveries are rendered in mundane imagery, while the identically pale, light-eyed, fair-haired Icelings suggest pallid takes on John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos (1957) and its comic-book and video game progeny. Narrator Lorna indicates no racial distinction between her and her sister, leading readers to believe she is white.

Faced with the inconsistent plotting, indifference to geography and climate, and sloppy execution, readers are more likely to abandon this series opener halfway than to wait for Volume 2. (Science fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59514-769-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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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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For princess fans and lovers of fairy tales.

COLD HEARTED

A TALE OF THE WICKED STEPMOTHER

From the Villains series

How did Cinderella’s stepmother come to be so wicked?

She may have been self-focused, but at least she wasn’t always so cruel. Lady Tremaine, mother of two spoiled daughters, is a lonely widow hoping for a bit of happiness. Unfortunately, when Sir Richard appears at her friend’s house party, she’s swept off her feet and fails to heed the frantic warnings of her dedicated, elderly lady’s maid. Had she ever bothered to read the book of fairy tales her late husband purchased years before, she might have recognized the perils of assuming the role of stepmother. Entranced by Sir Richard, she agrees to a hasty marriage and a move to the Many Kingdoms, where he reverts to his true, domineering nature and she and her daughters become virtual prisoners in his home. Although the Odd Sisters—clever, manipulative witches—try to intervene on her behalf, it seems her fate is already written; she becomes as cruel and demented as the story described. However, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and her sister, Nanny, have plans to rescue Lady Tremaine’s daughters as they develop much-needed, rehabilitative insights into the family’s dynamics. Mostly told from the Lady’s shallow, self-centered perspective, this is an entertaining retelling of the Disney “Cinderella” story from a different viewpoint, with references to the rest of the series woven throughout. Characters follow a White default.

For princess fans and lovers of fairy tales. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-02528-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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