A provoking, striking call to self-reflection.

THE WANING AGE

Set in an alternate San Francisco, Grove’s (The Crimson Skew, 2016, etc.) latest posits a world where humans lose all emotions beginning at the age of 10.

Understandably, Natalia Peña expects her 10-year-old brother, Cal, to undergo the waning process just like she did, but instead, his emotional capacity intensifies day after day. Cal’s resistance to the fade eventually attracts the attention of RealCorp, a shadowy, mighty pharmaceutical corporation that manufactures synaffs—expensive drugs that incite feelings in users. When RealCorp kidnaps Cal for testing, Nat sets off on a single-minded pursuit to get her brother back. But what exactly is fueling her determination? Grove expertly builds a memorable, if eerily unflappable, heroine via a first-person narratorial voice that will keep readers engrossed until the bittersweet end. Chapters from Cal’s limited point of view serve to fill in contextual and worldbuilding gaps left behind by Nat’s adult-oriented narrative, revealing a world ruled by apathy and nostalgia for bygone eras. On her journey, Nat must contend with absent parents (deceased or otherwise) as well as the Fish, a drooglike group who’ve cast aside society’s rules in favor of bleak violence. What’s behind humanity’s lack of emotions? Some potential answers (a decline in empathy coupled with unmonitored technological progress) seem terrifyingly plausible even in today’s social climate. With few physical descriptions, diversity is indicated mostly through names, and Nat is cued as Latinx.

A provoking, striking call to self-reflection. (Dystopian fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-451-47985-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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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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