Sure to spark difficult but necessary discussions.

OF BETTER BLOOD

Moger's debut novel tackles a little-studied chapter of American history.

Sixteen-year-old Rowan Collier has always been privileged—her father, a scientist, taught her that Colliers are "the fittest of the fit." But when she contracted polio at age 11, the growing eugenics movement plunged her into the insidiously sinister meaning of "fitness." Now, in 1922, Rowan is forced to perform as a cripple in the Betterment Council sideshow denouncing "unfit families": sick or disabled people, immigrants, and others deemed unfit to reproduce. When Rowan and her mischievous friend, Dorchy, escape the carnival, they become counselors at the Council's prophetically named Camp for Unfortunates and discover horrifying experiments they must stop. Unfortunately, Rowan's habit of summarizing chapter events slows the novel’s momentum. Threaded through the seedy carnival and camp action and Rowan's flashbacks are classism, accounts of sterilization, and the subtle chill of supremacism couched in concern—even love. Rowan's conflicts with privilege and family loyalty emphasize how easily eugenics could take root, and there are no easy endings; the epilogue hints at future medical atrocities, implicating the eugenics movement as a precursor to the horrors of Nazi Germany. An author's note provides a brief explanation and complicates popular historical figures, such as Theodore Roosevelt and Alexander Graham Bell, by revealing their support of eugenics.

Sure to spark difficult but necessary discussions. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-4774-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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An overall entertaining read.

THE PRETENDERS

From the Similars series , Vol. 2

In this sequel to The Similars (2018), tensions rise as the villains reveal a ploy to exact revenge on the Ten and their families and ultimately take over the world.

When Emma Chance returns to her elite boarding school, Darkwood Academy, for her senior year, things are different: Her best friend, Ollie Ward, is back while Levi Gravelle, Ollie’s clone and Emma’s love interest, has been imprisoned on Castor Island. More importantly, Emma is coming to terms with the contents of a letter from Gravelle which states that she is Eden, a Similar created to replace the original Emma, who died as a child. To complicate matters further, other clones—who are not Similars—infiltrate Darkwood, and Emma and her friends uncover a plot that threatens not only the lives of everyone they care about, but also the world as they know it. Hanover wastes no time delving right into the action; readers unfamiliar with the first book may get lost. This duology closer is largely predictable and often filled with loopholes, but the fast-paced narrative and one unexpected plot twist make for an engaging ride. As before, most of the primary characters read as white, and supporting characters remain underdeveloped. Despite its flaws and often implausible turns of events, the novel calls attention to larger questions of identity, selfhood, and what it means to be human.

An overall entertaining read. (Dystopia. 13-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6513-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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