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MIDNIGHT ZOO

An evocative story about unusual war victims whose enduring belief in goodness brings true freedom.

In a bombed town, two gypsy boys discover a zoo where abandoned animals teach them the meaning of freedom amid war’s chaos.

After witnessing their Romany caravan, including their parents and uncle, callously demolished by soldiers two months earlier, 12-year-old Andrej and his 9-year-old brother Tomas flee with their baby sister into what seems to be the European countryside of World War II. Trusting no one, they travel by night to avoid soldiers and civilians who hate them because they are Roms and “different.” Even though “fear beat inside Andrej like a dark, angry bird,” he tries to appear “calm and undaunted for Tomas, as if the precarious life they lived was unexceptional, and held no terrors at all.” When the boys find a mysterious zoo with a talking lioness, bear, wolf, chamois, eagle, boar, seal, llama, monkey and kangaroo, they share their meager food and stories with these fellow war victims. Helplessly trapped, the animals long for freedom but fear the unknown as Andrej tries to release them. Written in lyrical, spare prose, the plot encompasses a single night in which doomed animals and brave boys cling to hope in a world that makes no sense. Black-and-white spot art highlights animals and key scenes.

An evocative story about unusual war victims whose enduring belief in goodness brings true freedom.   (Fable. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5339-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

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

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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. 25, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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