An edgy YA fantasy featuring a strong heroine who must use her wits and inner strength to survive.

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Warchild's Dreams

In Smith’s debut fantasy novella, the first in a planned trilogy, a teenager is held captive by her father after her mother’s death.

One fateful day, Anna’s grandfather visits her at school to tell her the news that her mother, Rose, has drowned. Anna was very close to her loving mother, and she once had good times with her father, Fred, as well, but now she distrusts him; after he lost his job, he took to drink and became brutish. Three months after her mother’s death, Anna returns to school, where students have been known to bully her; however, she’s always found some comfort in her beloved red jacket, which smells of lavender—her mother’s favorite fragrance. When an explosion suddenly rocks her classroom, the sun becomes dark and haloed, and an image of a red-eyed Dictator, bent on establishing a new world order, appears in the sky. The Dictator is Anna’s own father, and for months afterward, he holds her against her will, sedating her, feeding her stale bread and moldy cheese, and interrogating her. He wants her to reveal “that location,” but she doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Perhaps the locale isn’t geographical but a place hidden deep in Anna’s memories; an introductory passage states that Anna “holds a key that could lead to the world’s destruction”—the ability to manifest dreams into reality. This is a well-written, thought-provoking tale about a “chosen one.” It’s ambiguous enough to suggest numerous literal or figurative interpretations, as it addresses harnessing the power of dreams, emotional and/or mental breakdowns, parental abuse as a form of dictatorship, classroom bullying, and war and revolution. The brief text also includes a captivating riddle involving a music box, which Anna must somehow solve. The story ends with unanswered, intriguing questions that will stimulate readers’ curiosity. Overall, this is an absorbing tale told with brevity and economy that ends at a pivotal moment before the next installment.

An edgy YA fantasy featuring a strong heroine who must use her wits and inner strength to survive.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-1502416629

Page Count: 66

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2015

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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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Powerful, captivating, and raw—Adeyemi is a talent to watch. Exceptional

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CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE

From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 1

Seventeen-year-old Zélie and companions journey to a mythic island seeking a chance to bring back magic to the land of Orïsha, in a fantasy world infused with the textures of West Africa.

Dark-skinned Zélie is a divîner—someone with latent magical abilities indicated by the distinctive white hair that sets them apart from their countrymen. She saves Princess Amari, who is on the run from her father, King Saran, after stealing the scroll that can transform divîners into magic-wielding maji, and the two flee along with Zélie’s brother. The scroll vanished 11 years ago during the king’s maji genocide, and Prince Inan, Amari’s brother, is sent in hot pursuit. When the trio learns that the impending solstice offers the only chance of restoring magic through a connection to Nana Baruku, the maternal creator deity, they race against time—and Inan—to obtain the final artifact needed for their ritual. Over the course of the book allegiances shift and characters grow, change, and confront traumas culminating in a cliffhanger ending that will leave readers anxiously awaiting the next installment. Well-drawn characters, an intense plot, and deft writing make this a strong story. That it is also a timely study on race, colorism, power, and injustice makes it great.

Powerful, captivating, and raw—Adeyemi is a talent to watch. Exceptional . (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17097-2

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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