A necessary reckoning of tensions within the African diaspora—an introduction to its brokenness and a place to start healing.

DREAM COUNTRY

Gibney (See No Color, 2015) skillfully navigates centuries of colonial violence, emphasizing the importance of privileging impact over intention in historical texts.

A comprehensive, but not entirely cohesive, timeline introduces a family beginning in 1827 at a plantation in Virginia. The story moves through the brutal colonization of Liberia, detailed further in the backmatter, by Europeans alongside white Americans and freed or escaped black slaves and ends with the prescient voice of Angel, a “black-African-queer” woman in present-day Minnesota. Gibney creates clear voices for her characters, most strikingly with 16-year-old Kollie, a Liberian refugee whose experience at his high school explores a microcosm of real discord between African-Americans and immigrants or refugees from myriad African countries living in the U.S. The naming of specific tribes in what became Liberia, and the inclusion of traditional proverbs alongside quotations from African-American writers, further spotlights the complicated, ever intertwined existences of black people all over the world. A nuanced focus on Liberia through the perspective of this one family, five generations described in five parts, therefore becomes a moving and melancholic metaphor for the struggle for place and home experienced by those still trapped by the legacy of the triangle of trans-Atlantic trade.

A necessary reckoning of tensions within the African diaspora—an introduction to its brokenness and a place to start healing. (author’s note, further resources, timeline) (Historical fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3167-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Perhaps a more genuinely enlightened protagonist would have made this debut more engaging

STALKING JACK THE RIPPER

Audrey Rose Wadsworth, 17, would rather perform autopsies in her uncle’s dark laboratory than find a suitable husband, as is the socially acceptable rite of passage for a young, white British lady in the late 1800s.

The story immediately brings Audrey into a fractious pairing with her uncle’s young assistant, Thomas Cresswell. The two engage in predictable rounds of “I’m smarter than you are” banter, while Audrey’s older brother, Nathaniel, taunts her for being a girl out of her place. Horrific murders of prostitutes whose identities point to associations with the Wadsworth estate prompt Audrey to start her own investigation, with Thomas as her sidekick. Audrey’s narration is both ponderous and polemical, as she sees her pursuit of her goals and this investigation as part of a crusade for women. She declares that the slain aren’t merely prostitutes but “daughters and wives and mothers,” but she’s also made it a point to deny any alignment with the profiled victims: “I am not going as a prostitute. I am simply blending in.” Audrey also expresses a narrow view of her desired gender role, asserting that “I was determined to be both pretty and fierce,” as if to say that physical beauty and liking “girly” things are integral to feminism. The graphic descriptions of mutilated women don’t do much to speed the pace.

Perhaps a more genuinely enlightened protagonist would have made this debut more engaging . (Historical thriller. 15-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-27349-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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High stakes, epic scope, intense action, and sweeping mythologies.

FURYBORN

From the Empirium Trilogy series , Vol. 1

Two girls separated by a thousand years are connected by a prophecy.

In a prologue, readers learn that pale-skinned Queen Rielle has killed her husband, the biracial Audric. She gives birth to their baby while a war between angels and humans rages. To keep the infant safe from the angels’ leader, light-skinned Corien, Rielle desperately charges a child with magical abilities to use his gifts to flee with and protect her—with mixed success. Later chapters alternate between telling Rielle’s story and flashing forward 1,020 years to focus on olive-skinned Eliana. Following a childhood tragedy, Rielle hid her staggering ability to control all seven elements until a threat against her beloved Audric caused her to reveal her gifts, prompting the Magisterial Council to impose seven trials to determine whether she was the Sun Queen or Blood Queen spoken of in prophecy. While readers start off knowing her story’s end, a steamy romance and devious twists along the way pack surprises. Eliana, meanwhile, is a deadly bounty hunter—serving an evil empire in order to protect her own family—who gets mixed up with rebels when her mother is abducted. The rigid, cliffhanger-heavy chapter structure is supported by breakneck pacing and constant action. The ending leaves neither storyline resolved.

High stakes, epic scope, intense action, and sweeping mythologies. (element guide) (Fantasy. 15-adult)

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5662-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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