While experimental technology can spark wild "what ifs," even "what ifs" need explanations, and lacking some details, Mira's...

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BIONIC

A talented white athlete and musician, high school senior Mira has a shot at a lacrosse scholarship—until she and her band hit a fuel truck on the way to a gig.

The catastrophic accident damages her brain, disfigures her face, destroys her knee, and leaves her a double amputee, taking her right arm and left leg. Rehab is difficult, and with so many artificial parts, she feels even less like herself. Her adjustment is realistically rough without being bleak, and her ambivalent use of antidepressants is handled sympathetically. Mira's relationships with friends and family—including her refreshingly empathetic autistic brother, who inspires a recurrent butterfly metaphor—convey both trauma and resilience. When she receives experimental prostheses that she controls via a chip in her brain, her outlook improves dramatically. Suddenly she's winning swim meets, looking like a model, playing guitar, and singing like a virtuoso, and remembering everything as though reliving it…and losing friends and being kicked off teams for her unfair advantage. Weyn draws on current technological developments as well as athletic and ethical controversies surrounding sophisticated prosthetics to frame her tale, but Mira's over-the-top, superhero-esque transformation veers into vague science-fiction territory, making her dilemma markedly less nuanced than that of her real-life counterparts.

While experimental technology can spark wild "what ifs," even "what ifs" need explanations, and lacking some details, Mira's transformation is unfortunately too extreme to mainstain willing suspension of disbelief. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-90677-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching.

CODE NAME VERITY

Breaking away from Arthurian legends (The Winter Prince, 1993, etc.), Wein delivers a heartbreaking tale of friendship during World War II.

In a cell in Nazi-occupied France, a young woman writes. Like Scheherezade, to whom she is compared by the SS officer in charge of her case, she dribbles out information—“everything I can remember about the British War Effort”—in exchange for time and a reprieve from torture. But her story is more than a listing of wireless codes or aircraft types. Instead, she describes her friendship with Maddie, the pilot who flew them to France, as well as the real details of the British War Effort: the breaking down of class barriers, the opportunities, the fears and victories not only of war, but of daily life. She also describes, almost casually, her unbearable current situation and the SS officer who holds her life in his hands and his beleaguered female associate, who translates the narrative each day. Through the layers of story, characters (including the Nazis) spring to life. And as the epigraph makes clear, there is more to this tale than is immediately apparent. The twists will lead readers to finish the last page and turn back to the beginning to see how the pieces slot perfectly, unexpectedly into place.

A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5219-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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Second installments in trilogies sometimes slump—here’s hoping the third book is a return to the vibrancy of the...

CHILDREN OF VIRTUE AND VENGEANCE

From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 2

In this follow-up to Children of Blood and Bone (2018), Zélie and company are back, and the future of Orïsha hangs in the balance.

Zélie, now a maji Reaper, has achieved her goal and brought magic back to Orïsha, but at great cost. Grief and loss are strong themes throughout the book, compounded by guilt for Zélie, who feels responsible for her father’s death. Zélie and her older brother, Tzain, try to help Princess Amari ascend the throne, believing her family dead—but Queen Nehanda, Amari’s mother, is very much alive and more formidable than they could imagine. The trio join the Iyika, a band of rebel maji working to protect their persecuted people from threats new and old. Though the characters’ trauma reads as real and understandable, their decisions don’t always feel sensible or logical, often stemming from a lack of communication or forethought, which may leave readers frustrated. Though still commendable for its detailed worldbuilding, with an ending compelling enough to keep fans interested in the next installment, much of the book feels like navigating minefields of characters’ ill-advised decisions. All characters are black except for a secondary character with silky black hair, tan skin, and gray eyes “like teardrops.”

Second installments in trilogies sometimes slump—here’s hoping the third book is a return to the vibrancy of the first. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-17099-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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