Miri’s story comes to a satisfying end; readers who have been waiting since 2005 will find their patience well rewarded.

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PALACE OF STONE

From the Princess Academy series , Vol. 2

Miri leaves her mountain of linder stone for another year of study and finds ethics and rhetoric to be powerful tools in the making of a revolution.

This sequel to Princess Academy (2005) returns Miri and several of the girls from Mount Eskel to Asland to prepare for the wedding of Miri’s best friend Britta to Prince Steffan. Times are dire: The people are destitute or starving, and the king, Steffan’s father, seems indifferent and distant. Miri meets Timon, a classmate, and Lady Sisela, who speak strongly of the oppression of “the shoeless.” The first half of the tale is a little slow and full of set-up, but the second half, when Miri takes action to prevent bloodshed, is powerful and deeply engaging. She uses not only rhetoric and ethics but the emotions of her people, which are held in the linder stone that comprises the palace, to hold the violence of the revolution in check. The politics echo the French Revolution (Hale notes this in the acknowledgments), but Miri’s clear voice keeps the story hers and her people’s. There’s lovely texture to clothing and architectural descriptions and vivid warmth to Miri’s friendships, her longing for home and her thirst to learn more and more. Not one but two boys help her find all the feelings kisses can engender.

Miri’s story comes to a satisfying end; readers who have been waiting since 2005 will find their patience well rewarded. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59990-873-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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TRISTAN STRONG DESTROYS THE WORLD

From the Tristan Strong series , Vol. 2

Tristan Strong is back in this sequel to Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (2019).

A month’s passed since rising eighth grader Tristan’s first adventure in Alke, the world where African American folktale heroes are gods who live alongside African deities. Tristan’s now an Anansesem, “a carrier and spreader of stories,” and after the Shamble Man, a new foe, kidnaps his grandmother and takes her back to Alke, he follows, determined to rescue her. Tristan heads off on an adventure that will challenge his reluctant hero-ness (realistically, this aspect of his character hasn’t changed) and force him to reckon with the truth: Though he saved Alke, he was also the reason Alke was in danger in the first place. Fans of the first book will cheer the return of old friends, like capable, reliable Ayanna; the ever quippy Gum Baby (who steals the show, as per usual); and cellphone-bound trickster Anansi, and appreciate the new characters. The ending is nothing short of earth-shattering, promising a fascinating next entry. Well-paced—just like the previous installment—this sequel focuses on themes such as the meaning of diaspora and the effects of trauma, making for a more nuanced and stronger story than the first. The human characters are Black with varying shades of brown skin.

Packs a punch. (map) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-04238-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay.

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GHOST

From the Track series , Vol. 1

Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw feels like he’s been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his mom—and used it.

His dad’s been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many “altercations” he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he’s fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid “altercations.” But Ma doesn’t have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow “newbies” on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost’s world are described as such.

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5015-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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