The identity and marginalization issues loom large, but instead of being shoehorned into side characters, they're scooped up...

CHANGERS

KIM

From the Changers series , Vol. 3

Ethan woke up his freshman year as a white girl, sophomore year as a black boy, and now junior year as a fat Asian girl named Kim.

Kim's initial self-loathing for her larger self is difficult to take but highlights what can come with being fat: the limp "pretty face" compliments, the unwanted self-presentation advice, acting small to make up for taking up physical space. Kim makes friends with a theater-obsessed white boy—who refers to himself as a “total gay cliché”—who helps her stow her shame and dance freely, which leads to liberation in the rest of her life. When Kim's invited to join an Asian student club, she feels like an imposter because she wasn't raised with traditions that inform the Asian-American kids' lives—a feeling also experienced by children of immigrants whose parents have valued assimilation over identity. The love interest through two books, Audrey, is back, but Kim's relationship with her can't be anything like it had been—or can it? In this third book, it becomes clear that Cooper and Glock-Cooper are writing for the long game, and they've made some revelations that may help answer questions raised by the first two books. The plot is complicated (there’s even a glossary in the back), but Kim's voice and the banter between characters are funny, and they feel real.

The identity and marginalization issues loom large, but instead of being shoehorned into side characters, they're scooped up and taken into a deeper, entertaining, fantastic narrative. (Science fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61775-489-0

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Black Sheep/Akashic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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An epic series opener of old-school high fantasy catering to modern audiences.

REALM BREAKER

When the realm is in danger, only a small band of misfits can save Allward.

An in medias res prologue, told from the point of view of the lone squire accompanying the 12 Companions of the Realm, tosses readers into the thick of a quest. Half the Companions are human heroes and half are immortal Elders; they seek to stop a rogue thief and his wizard accomplice from using a magical Spindle to tear a passage between worlds for nefarious ends. A disastrous battle sends squire Andry fleeing with Cortael’s sword so villain Taristan can’t get his hands on it. Grieving Elder Dom requires both a person of Corblood (a descendant of human travelers from another realm) and the Spindleblade Andry protects to stop Taristan from bringing ruin to the realm. Dom seeks Cortael’s secret daughter, Corayne, a bright but sheltered teenager with a pirate mother. At times the narrative tension is undermined by flashbacks that readers already know the conclusions to and by occasional repetition caused by the multiple point-of-view jumps, but there’s a wide variety of action scenes, daring escapes, and betrayals. Many tropes and character types are familiar, but exquisite descriptions and clashing motivations result in a nuanced, sprawling realm with a sense of complicated history. This world is highly diverse in terms of both skin tone and in the refreshing range of roles female characters inhabit.

An epic series opener of old-school high fantasy catering to modern audiences. (map) (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-287262-3

Page Count: 576

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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