Next book

FLASH FIRE

From the Extraordinaries series , Vol. 2

Another extraordinary installment.

This sequel to the superhero tale The Extraordinaries (2020) is jampacked with action, nefarious plots, romance, and puns.

Nicholas Bell has it pretty good: Though he’s only 16, he’s got a strong, positive sense of self (critical for a gay teen) in addition to a supportive dad, great friends, and an adorable boyfriend, Seth. Seth’s alter ego is the superpowered Pyro Storm, who can manifest fire and spends much of his free time aiding local citizens in their fair city. Nick is proud of Seth and does everything he can to support him, including orchestrating Pyro Storm’s rebranding efforts via social media and composing hot fanfic—if Nick does say so himself. Of course, Nick has his own struggles, like dealing with his ADHD, massive headaches, awkward visits from a sketchy rich dude (long story), and some explosive secrets on the verge of being revealed. Spending more time with these characters is an absolute delight; the love they share and readily profess for each other, both platonic and romantic, is beautiful to witness. Of particular note is the tension between Nick’s cop father and the middle-class Black family of Gibby, one of Nick’s friends. The discussions by both parties are frank, with Nick’s father ultimately taking responsibility for his past misconduct and Nick showing growth in understanding Gibby’s parents’ perspective. Nick and Seth are White.

Another extraordinary installment. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-20368-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

Next book

POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

Next book

BLOOD AT THE ROOT

From the Blood at the Root series , Vol. 1

A well-thought-out magical world that provocatively centers Black experiences.

Black diaspora magic manifests in a boy on the worst day of his life—but later, things only get more complicated.

When Malik Baron was 7, his mother vanished in the explosive moment his powers manifested while he defended them from mysterious cloaked figures. Ten years (and many foster homes later), the short-tempered Malik isn’t much better at controlling his powers, but he’s ready to leave Helena, Alabama, and start over with Taye, his foster brother. Reuniting with Mama Aya, the maternal grandmother in New Orleans he never knew, wasn’t part of the plan, but fate draws Malik to her—and into a secret world of magic. He discovers Caiman University—a sort of magical historically Black college—which may be where he’ll find answers to what happened to his mother. Narrator Malik, who uses colorful language, is fully aware of the Black Harry Potter subtext of his story, and he’s thoughtfully focused on protecting Taye, proving his mother is still alive, and surviving in a world that has never made things easy, even before supernatural threats emerged. The extensive worldbuilding incorporates West African, Caribbean, and Black American history and cultures to explain a magical reality hidden from view and relevant to the Black diaspora and Malik’s family history. When Malik bumps into an old friend and potential love interest on campus, everything is in place for him to grow into his powers, uncover the truth, and face new heartbreak.

A well-thought-out magical world that provocatively centers Black experiences. (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780593711927

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Labyrinth Road

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

Close Quickview