OF US AND THEM

A tightly written tale that, after a slow start, grounds itself in engaging, mysterious lore.

A debut YA SF novel about a young woman coming to terms with her destiny.

On 22nd-century Earth, 17-year-old Evren’s upbringing has centered on the unalterable fact that she will someday serve as the 12th and final Paladin—a human chosen as a physical vessel for the Leviathans, a powerful, mysterious alien species. In the opening pages, Coughlin introduces this species as “gods among men,” with a goal to “save Earth and push humans into their next state of evolution.” Evren undergoes rigorous physical training to prepare her body for its purpose, and Coughlin introduces her in early sections as a determined young woman who, despite her singularity of purpose, shows a healthy curiosity about the world around her—a perspective that’s often at odds with that of her mother, Ignis, who leads Nexum, the organization working to prepare Evren for her fate. Early on, the novel falls into the common fantasy-genre pitfall of introducing the world’s mythology too quickly instead of slowly peeling back its layers as the story goes on. However, once the novel starts hinting at mysterious forces that seek to prevent Leviathans from merging with Paladins, Coughlin’s writing tightens up considerably—particularly after another Paladin is found dead. From there, the teenage protagonist—and the reader—starts learning more about Nexum, and her increased knowledge coincides with her doubts about her mother’s role in her life. Soon, her relationships with other Nexum trainees effectively take center stage, and the work settles into a well-paced mystery plot. Throughout, the secrets of the Leviathans, and their mystical relationship to humans, loom enticingly in the background, waiting to be revealed.

A tightly written tale that, after a slow start, grounds itself in engaging, mysterious lore.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2021

ISBN: 979-8476314745

Page Count: 251

Publisher: Darkstroke Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2021

FIREBORNE

From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.

What happens to the world after the dust from a revolution has settled?

Friends Annie and Lee were children from very different circles when Atreus killed Lee’s father, dragonlord Leon Stormscourge, ending the uprising on the bloodiest day in Callipolis’ history. For too long the dragonriders held all the power while their people starved and lived in fear. Nine years later, a new generation of dragonriders is emerging, children selected and trained on merit, not bloodlines. Their dragons are finally mature enough for them to compete for Firstrider, a position of power that can give Lee back a small part of what his family lost. However, not only is Lee competing against Annie, but rumors are circulating that some of the royal family have survived and have dragons of their own. Everyone will have to make a choice: Restore the old regime, support the First Protector and the new caste system he created, or look for a new way, no matter what the cost. From the beginning, this book pulls readers in with political intrigue and action. What keeps them invested, however, are the complex relationships between many cast members. Choices are complex, and the consequences for all could be deadly. The world is well fleshed out and believable. Annie and Lee are light skinned; secondary characters are diverse, and race is a nonissue in this world.

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes. (author’s note) (Fantasy.14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51821-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

THE WARNING

From the Warning series , Vol. 1

A glossy repackaging of a jejune tale.

A reissue of the 2016 novel published as Consider.

Alexandra Lucas and her boyfriend, Dominick, are about to start their senior year of high school when 500 vertexes—each one a doorway-shaped “hole into the fabric of the universe”—appear across the world, accompanied by holographic messages communicating news of Earth’s impending doom. The only escape is a one-way trip through the portals to a parallel future Earth. As people leave through the vertexes and the extinction event draws nearer, the world becomes increasingly unfamiliar. A lot has changed in the past several years, including expectations of mental health depictions in young adult literature; Alex’s struggle with anxiety and reliance on Ativan, which she calls her “little white savior” while initially discounting therapy as an intervention, make for a trite after-school special–level treatment of a complex situation; a short stint of effective therapy does finally occur but is so limited in duration that it contributes to the oversimplification of the topic. Alex also has unresolved issues with her Gulf War veteran father (who possibly grapples with PTSD). The slow pace of the plot as it depicts a crumbling society, along with stilted writing and insubstantial secondary characterization, limits the appeal of such a small-scale, personal story. Characters are minimally described and largely racially ambiguous; Alex has golden skin and curly brown hair.

A glossy repackaging of a jejune tale. (Science fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: June 6, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-72826-839-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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