Lucky U.K. readers get cliffhangers and toothsome prose, but at least Americans still get the thrills of the shooting...


In a very near future, two teenagers in a scarcely functional London are caught up in terrorist plots.

Nat and Charlie live in an England with an economy just a touch worse than the real thing: Austerity cuts are closing hospitals, shrinking police departments, and leaving countless people unemployed and hungry. As the novel opens, Charlie, fighting with her mum in the free food line, barely survives the terrorist bomb that claims her mother's life. Nat knows about the bomb but—convinced his brother, Lucas, is the bomber—tries and fails to stop the attack in time. Now Charlie lives with relatives, and Nat (who hasn't reported his suspicions about Lucas) needs to understand his now-comatose brother's motivations. How had cheerful, peaceful Lucas fallen in with the racist terrorists of the League of Iron? In a series of brief first-person chapters, Nat and Charlie cope with the bombing's aftermath. Nat's attempts to infiltrate the League of Iron lead both teenagers into dangerous plots against the people and government of England (and into conversations with thugs who make violent, despicable, racist threats). Despite their attempts to defeat the villains, everything goes to hell just in time for the heavily foreshadowed reveals to set up the sequel. Though the action-packed suspense is up to snuff, heavy-handed Americanization leaves both characters and setting bland and flavorless.

Lucky U.K. readers get cliffhangers and toothsome prose, but at least Americans still get the thrills of the shooting practice and bombing plots . (Thriller. 13-15)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1394-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Overall, the blurred magic/technology boundary gives a compelling flavor to an adventure well worth reading.


A ghost dragon sends Kai and his spirit pig on a quest to rescue the princess of a cyberpunk China-analogue.

Kai’s grown apart from his friends since the adventure that brought him money and the friendship of Princess Lian. At least he still sees his best friend Yún daily during their shared apprenticeship, but he can't talk to her without arguing. Now the king of Lóng City is gravely ill, the magic flux powering the city's talk-phones and electronics is failing and Kai's mother is missing. His unwilling quest to save the day takes Kai across the Seventy Kingdoms all the way to the mysterious Phoenix Empire. It's a good thing Yún joins him, because Kai simply isn't clever enough to deal with all the bureaucracy the journey entails, from taxes to passports. They travel by foot, pony and luxurious train to find Princess Lian, who can surely help them. As an adventurer, Kai is on the passive side and tends to let the world happen to him, but this is a minor quibble. He also frequently refers to the adventure that brought him together with his now-estranged friends, but since those events were from a short story ("Pig, Crane, Fox: Three Hearts Unfolding" from the fantasy anthology Magic in the Mirrorstone, edited by Steve Berman, 2008), readers are more likely to be frustrated then familiar.

Overall, the blurred magic/technology boundary gives a compelling flavor to an adventure well worth reading. (Fantasy/cyberpunk. 13-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-670-01278-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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An attempted twist on The Hunger Games


From the Hunt series , Vol. 1

If the world is full of vampires, how do the humans survive?

Gene's a heper: one of the disgusting endangered species that sweats, can't see in the dark and don't have fangs. He's lived this long by disguising himself as a real person, never smiling or laughing or napping where he can be seen; gobbling bloody raw meat with his classmates; showing a stoic, expressionless face at all times. Appearing emotionless is trickier than usual when the nation announces a Heper Hunt. Every citizen of the nation will be entered into a lottery, and a lucky few will be selected to hunt the last remaining hepers to the death. When Gene is selected (of course Gene is selected), he's terrified: Training with the other lottery winners at the Heper Institute, he'll have no opportunity to scrub off the sweat, body hair, plaque and other evidence of his vile human nature. If the vampires realize there is a human among them, he'll be torn to pieces before he can blink. Luckily, Gene seems to have an unlikely ally at the Institute: Ashley June, a classmate of his who has secrets of her own. While the worldbuilding is thin and frequently nonsensical, this grotesque and bloody construction of a vampire world will appeal to readers who've been craving gore over romance with their vampires. Perhaps the sequel will bring the illogical parts together.

An attempted twist on The Hunger Games . (Paranormal adventure. 13-15)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-250-00514-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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