All in all, a diverse and too-often off-topic collection that's not steamy enough in either sense of the word but is partly...

CORSETS & CLOCKWORK

13 STEAMPUNK ROMANCES

Simply sticking a few gears in does not steampunk make, no matter what the subtitle says.

The 13 stories, from a range of authors including several who have previously written mostly for adults, range from romance to horror, cover a gamut of times and places and include both the sublime and the sublimely bland. The opening story has both corsets and clockwork but little real depth, and at least four stories are more romantic fantasy (of varying quality) with a few elements meant to evoke a steampunk ethos. Others take some elements of the genre and transport it (with fair success) to the American south of the ’50s and Nazi-occupied Poland. The best stories are those that most closely adhere a fairly traditional definition of steampunk in manners, machinery and punk spirit, like Frewin Jones’ weirdly wonderful “The Cannibal Fiend of Rotherhithe,” with its half-mer cannibal heroine and a plucky boy who might be true love or just a snack; Adrienne Kress’ “The Clockwork Corset,” high romance with a spunky cross-dressing heroine; and Kiersten White’s excellent closing tale, “Tick, Tick, Boom,” whose narrator is a machinist and noble’s daughter who falls for an anarchist.

All in all, a diverse and too-often off-topic collection that's not steamy enough in either sense of the word but is partly redeemed by a few gems. (introduction, author biographies) (Steampunk/fantasy/romance anthology. 12 & up)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7624-4092-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: RP Teens

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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The plotting is powerful enough to carry most readers past flaws and into the next book in the series.

SHADOW AND BONE

From the Grisha Trilogy series , Vol. 1

In a Russian-inflected fantasy world, an orphan comes into immense power and, with it, danger.

When the Grisha came to test inseparable friends Alina and Malyen, neither showed any aptitude for the Small Science. Years later, they are in the army, Alina in the cartographer corps and Mal a tracker. They are escorting the Darkling, the most powerful Grisha in the land, across the terrifying Shadow Fold that divides Ravka’s heart from its coast. An attack by the terrifying volcra brings forth a power Alina never knew she had: She is a Sun Summoner. The charismatic, quartz-eyed Darkling takes her to the palace to learn the art of the Etherealki, and Mal is left behind. Bardugo allows the details of Grisha magic to unfold with limited exposition, using Alina's ignorance for readers' benefit. While Alina's training borrows familiar tropes (outlander combat teacher, wizened-crone magic instructor, friends and enemies among her peers), readers will nevertheless cheer her progress. But the worldbuilding is continually undercut by clunky colloquialisms; such phrases as "Well, that's completely creepy" and "It's okay" yank readers out of this carefully constructed, mostly preindustrial world. Readers may also be troubled by the sexualization of power found in its pages.

The plotting is powerful enough to carry most readers past flaws and into the next book in the series. (classification of Grisha types, map [not seen]) (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: June 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9459-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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