Characterization elevates this romance over similar offerings in a crowded genre.

LET THE SKY FALL

From the Sky Fall series , Vol. 1

A teenage boy discovers his magical heritage and falls in love with his protector.

Vane Weston has no memories of his life before a tornado killed his parents, only dreams haunted by a beautiful girl. Audra’s been following Vane as his assigned protector from the Gale Force. Although Vane has no memory of it, he is an air elemental, or sylph, just like Audra—in fact, he is the key piece in a war against the stock villain, a power-hungry sylph tyrant who murdered Vane’s parents. Doing her duties, Audra accidentally reveals their location—in much the same way that, years ago, she unintentionally alerted enemy soldiers, called Stormers, to Audra’s parents’ location as they served as guardians for Vane’s family. This prior accident ended in numerous casualties. Vane must awaken to his heritage and powers, mastering the languages of the four winds (one for each direction), if they are to stand a chance when the Stormers come for them. Audra has only days to train him, adding temporal tension. Chapters alternate first-person narration between Vane and Audra, with Audra’s redemptive arc adding meat to the orphan-hero-discovering-his-magical-heritage storyline. While some early exposition is clunky, once the story settles into a character-driven rhythm, the prose smooths out considerably. The twists at the end are refreshing rather than cheap.

Characterization elevates this romance over similar offerings in a crowded genre. (Paranormal romance. 12-17)

Pub Date: March 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-5041-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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