Not a lot of plot or subtlety, but plenty of explosions in this macho, military story.



From the Riders series , Vol. 1

Bickering boys slouch toward something in this semi-apocalyptic action tale.

Feeling helpless after watching his father die, and longing for brotherhood and belonging, Gideon Blake joined the Army Rangers. When he falls from grace—and a plane—and temporarily dies, he returns as red-cuffed and rage-filled War, though he’s afraid of his fiery horse. Inexplicably abandoning his family and Ranger unit, he partners with hot but helpless Seeker Daryn on a road trip to collect the other horsemen: Sebastian/Famine, Marcus/Death, and Jode/Conquest. The seemingly interminable trip and Gideon’s painful flirtation with Daryn are punctuated by bloody encounters with the Kindred, seven former allies of Satan who now seek a realm and slaves of their own. Typical demonic villains, the Kindred are grotesque, ridiculously named, and prone to terrible dialogue. While God and spirituality are repeatedly mentioned, actual religion and Revelation are of little relevance here. Rossi relies on an interrogation as an intrusive framing device to explore all aspects of Gideon but leaves the fellow horsemen underdeveloped, though each boy gets to show off his weapon and steed. Gideon may not be great at flirting, leading the horsemen, controlling his temper, or horseback riding, but he will try to save the world with hooah and some hubris.

Not a lot of plot or subtlety, but plenty of explosions in this macho, military story. (Fantasy. 14-20)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7653-8254-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Starscape/Tom Doherty

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.


From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.


From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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