SCINTILLATE

From the Light Key Trilogy series , Vol. 1

In this debut YA novel, a teenage American girl goes back to Ireland to find the truth of who she is after she discovers a family secret and a new, supernatural ability.
When a sudden, debilitating illness places 17-year-old Cora Sandoval in the hospital, she wakes up with the unsettling power to see other people’s auras and judge their feelings by the colors she sees. She always sees herself, however, as glowing bright silver. To make things more confusing, Cora soon captures the attention of Finn, a handsome Irish exchange student who may be hiding secrets of his own. Unable to get any answers from her suspiciously tight-lipped father, Cora goes to Ireland to seek the truth, eventually uncovering the mystery of a special race called the Scintilla, of which her mother was a member. Scintilla are hunted by other beings called Arrazi, who gain power by taking other people’s life forces; this, it turns out, is what really happened to Cora’s mother, who vanished in Ireland when Cora was 5. Clark’s novel is laden with standard tropes: a bookish, unpopular heroine; a family secret; and, of course, a rakish, mysterious boy inexplicably drawn to the heroine. Yet these all provide a foundation for an intense story that expands on aspects of real history and mythology. Cora’s personality and deadpan humor pop off the page, as do the novel’s evocative, emotionally charged descriptions of people and places (“Do houses have memories, too? Can they recall the squeal of a little girl chasing after a grasshopper in the grass?”). Cora is an active heroine, using her aura-reading power, as well as a quickly developing ability to read the histories of objects, to traverse an unfamiliar country and discover illuminating treasures. The love story sometimes distracts from the plot, although it’s full of passion, as well as irrational jealousy when Cora meets a man with a silver aura like hers. However, it eventually becomes an integral part of the tale.
Despite typical paranormal teen traps, Clark’s novel is a powerful, heart-wrenching adventure.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1622661459

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly...

THE GIVER

From the Giver Quartet series , Vol. 1

In a radical departure from her realistic fiction and comic chronicles of Anastasia, Lowry creates a chilling, tightly controlled future society where all controversy, pain, and choice have been expunged, each childhood year has its privileges and responsibilities, and family members are selected for compatibility.

As Jonas approaches the "Ceremony of Twelve," he wonders what his adult "Assignment" will be. Father, a "Nurturer," cares for "newchildren"; Mother works in the "Department of Justice"; but Jonas's admitted talents suggest no particular calling. In the event, he is named "Receiver," to replace an Elder with a unique function: holding the community's memories—painful, troubling, or prone to lead (like love) to disorder; the Elder ("The Giver") now begins to transfer these memories to Jonas. The process is deeply disturbing; for the first time, Jonas learns about ordinary things like color, the sun, snow, and mountains, as well as love, war, and death: the ceremony known as "release" is revealed to be murder. Horrified, Jonas plots escape to "Elsewhere," a step he believes will return the memories to all the people, but his timing is upset by a decision to release a newchild he has come to love. Ill-equipped, Jonas sets out with the baby on a desperate journey whose enigmatic conclusion resonates with allegory: Jonas may be a Christ figure, but the contrasts here with Christian symbols are also intriguing.

Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly provocative novel. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 978-0-395-64566-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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