STREET MAGIC

From the Circle Opens series , Vol. 2

Pierce (Magic Steps, 2000, etc.) continues to individually develop her quartet of adolescent mages. Former street rat Briar Moss, now 14 and a fully certified Mage, visits the distant city of Chammur with his mentor Rosethorn, in order to use their plant magic to replenish its depleted soil. While sightseeing, Briar discovers the homeless waif Evvy leaking stone magic. Reluctantly tutoring her in the control of her incipient powers, he becomes embroiled in a gang war, as the Vipers, prodded by a bored noblewoman, seek to profit by Evvy's talents. While retaining his most appealing traits—his affectionate bond with plant life, his jaundiced skepticism towards authority, and the prickly sarcasm disguising his deep love for his teacher and foster sisters—Briar also matures through the rewards and frustrations of teaching; and the threat to his protégé forces him to confront his romanticized ambivalence toward his own childhood gang. Strong-willed Evvy is a delightful addition to Pierce's mostly female cast, and the villainous Lady Zenadia oozes serpentine menace. Most fascinating is rose-red Chammur itself, with its timeworn stones, bustling bazaars, dusty rooftop roads, and cool, shaded palaces. Ancient, arid, elegant, sinister, sophisticated, weary, and cruel, Chammur drips with an exotic atmosphere clearly inspired by (if uncomfortably close to stereotyping) classical Arab culture. A must for Pierce's many fans, and a solid choice for those interested in a different take on gangs, faraway lands, or just good imaginative fantasy. (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-590-39628-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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There’s violence and gore in profusion, cool gear, hot wheels, awesome feats, inner conflicts on both sides—all that’s...

STEELHEART

From the Steelheart series , Vol. 1

A straight-up Marvel Comics–style action drama featuring a small band of human assassins taking on costumed, superpowered supervillains with melodramatic monikers.

It’s certainly a tried-and-true formula. Twelve years ago, a mysterious Calamity began turning random ordinary humans into evil Epics gifted with various combinations of superpowers (and also, always, some Achilles heel). Now, 18-year-old David Charleston manages at last to make contact with a cell of Epic-killing Reckoners led by legendary mastermind Jon Phaedrus. Then it’s on to a nonstop thrill ride that begins with the killing of David’s father 10 years before and roars through car and motorcycle chases, secret missions, huge explosions and hails of gunfire with high-tech weaponry to a climactic battle with Epic Steelheart. He’s bulletproof, shoots energy balls, has transformed the entire Chicago area into solid steel with a wave of his hand and wears a stylish silver cape. Shockingly, the book closes with the stunning revelation than not all Epics are evil through and through. As further sign that Sanderson (Rithmatist, 2013, etc.) isn’t taking any of this too seriously, the cast of Epics includes not only the likes of Steelheart, Faultline and Deathpoint, but Pink Pinkness and El Brass Bullish Dude, and some of their powers are equally silly. Stay tuned for sequels.

There’s violence and gore in profusion, cool gear, hot wheels, awesome feats, inner conflicts on both sides—all that’s missing are the pictures. (Fantasy. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-385-74356-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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