Impressive, immaculately plotted sci fi chock full of twists but lacking heart.

IMPOSTORS

From the Impostors-Westerfeld series , Vol. 1

A twin raised as a body double for her famous sister is sent on her first solo mission.

Sisters Rafi and Frey live under the shadow of their powerful father, leader of the city of Shreve. Rafi was raised in the public eye as a diplomat, attending parties and currying favor. Frey is a secret, enduring brutal training to ward off would-be assassins and taking her sister’s place when a setting is deemed too dangerous. But when their father strikes a business deal with the first family of a neighboring city, there’s a twist: The Palafoxes want Rafi as collateral to ensure there’s no funny business. Sent there instead, Frey’s world is turned upside down as she gets her first taste of freedom in a new city and quickly befriends Col, the Palafox heir—but her own duplicity turns out to be no match for those around her. In a setting that seems like a parallel Europe, the Palafoxes speak Spanish, and race is not explicitly defined. One character uses “they/them” pronouns. Intricately choreographed action sequences abound; Frey’s unplanned adventure moves like a swift game of chess, but the fireworks take precedence over Frey and Col’s relationship, and they read more as pawns in war games than fully realized people. Although set in the world of Uglies (2005), this work is accessible as an entry point.

Impressive, immaculately plotted sci fi chock full of twists but lacking heart. (Science fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-15151-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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