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A suspenseful glimpse into a dystopian America dominated by technology.

In the near future, corporations secretly run governments, and most teens and adults use neural implants that allow them to be online at all times.

Twelve-year-old Chinese American Hana can’t wait for next year, when she’ll finally be old enough to activate her neural implant just like her mother and older sister. After Hana is chosen to study at the prestigious Start-Up school, she learns about a new process that will fast-track her date for being meshed to the multiweb. At Start-Up, Hana meets new friends—Japanese and Jewish Charlene, who goes by Chuck, and Latinx Tomás—who each have their own personal motivations for succeeding. The trio compete against other students in virtual reality challenges that test their ability to use boosts, or digital enhancements that provide artificial intelligence, strength, or sensory awareness. Suspicious events at the school coupled with warnings from others trigger Hana to investigate. This smart science-fiction thriller envisions a technologically advanced future America in which Chinese culture plays a prominent role and which is still grappling with concerns like climate change, classism, and monopolies. In addition to these larger timely issues, Hana navigates complex family dynamics (among other things, her father died one year ago, and her grandmother has dementia) and burgeoning friendships in this layered work that invites critical questioning of reliance on technology.

A suspenseful glimpse into a dystopian America dominated by technology. (Science fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35039-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven.

An aspiring scientist and a budding artist become friends and help each other with dream projects.

Unfolding in mid-1980s Sacramento, California, this story stars 12-year-olds Rosalind and Benjamin as first-person narrators in alternating chapters. Ro’s father, a fellow space buff, was killed by a drunk driver; the rocket they were working on together lies unfinished in her closet. As for Benji, not only has his best friend, Amir, moved away, but the comic book holding the clue for locating his dad is also missing. Along with their profound personal losses, the protagonists share a fixation with the universe’s intriguing potential: Ro decides to complete the rocket and hopes to launch mementos of her father into outer space while Benji’s conviction that aliens and UFOs are real compels his imagination and creativity as an artist. An accident in science class triggers a chain of events forcing Benji and Ro, who is new to the school, to interact and unintentionally learn each other’s secrets. They resolve to find Benji’s dad—a famous comic-book artist—and partner to finish Ro’s rocket for the science fair. Together, they overcome technical, scheduling, and geographical challenges. Readers will be drawn in by amusing and fantastical elements in the comic book theme, high emotional stakes that arouse sympathy, and well-drawn character development as the protagonists navigate life lessons around grief, patience, self-advocacy, and standing up for others. Ro is biracial (Chinese/White); Benji is White.

Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-300888-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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From the Legacy series , Vol. 2

A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship.

A young tennis champion becomes the target of revenge.

In this sequel to Legacy and the Queen (2019), Legacy Petrin and her friends Javi and Pippa have returned to Legacy’s home province and the orphanage run by her father. With her friends’ help, she is in training to defend her championship when they discover that another player, operating under the protection of High Consul Silla, is presenting herself as Legacy. She is so convincing that the real Legacy is accused of being an imitation. False Legacy has become a hero to the masses, further strengthening Silla’s hold, and it becomes imperative to uncover and defeat her. If Legacy is to win again, she must play her imposter while disguised as someone else. Winning at tennis is not just about money and fame, but resisting Silla’s plans to send more young people into brutal mines with little hope of better lives. Legacy will have to overcome her fears and find the magic that allowed her to claim victory in the past. This story, with its elements of sports, fantasy, and social consciousness that highlight tensions between the powerful and those they prey upon, successfully continues the series conceived by late basketball superstar Bryant. As before, the tennis matches are depicted with pace and spirit. Legacy and Javi have brown skin; most other characters default to White.

A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-949520-19-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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