Crackling with energy, just the ticket for an all-night read.

READ REVIEW

THIS SAVAGE SONG

Natural enemies find themselves reluctant allies in a war-torn, monstrous future.

Schwab’s latest seems poised to grab both her adult and teen readers; the world is fascinating (if sometimes a little thin—education and technology are almost exactly the same in this future), the characters complicated, and the political machinations and emotional depths both charged and compelling. The scene: an isolated supercity in former middle America, populated by the evil Corsai and Malchai and the more complicated Sunai, who can kill only those who have killed (and must do so regularly to maintain their semblance of humanity); all have been born from moments of violence. Against this, Kate Harker (fair-haired, partially deaf, inclined to arson and spying) returns to appease and impress her father, who controls the Malchai and half the city. Across town, Sunai August (seemingly 16, black haired and gray-eyed, a monster who tries to be human) wants his adoptive father’s side to succeed in creating a better world. Family and interpersonal dynamics, questions of good and evil, horrifying monsters (some of them human), and moments of violence both graphic and poetic serve as backdrop to a growing sense of kinship between Kate and August, who want a better world—but probably won’t get one, based on the zinger of an ending.

Crackling with energy, just the ticket for an all-night read. (Futuristic fantasy/horror. 15 & up)

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-238085-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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Only marginally intriguing.

REDEMPTION PREP

In a remote part of Utah, in a “temple of excellence,” the best of the best are recruited to nurture their talents.

Redemption Preparatory is a cross between the Vatican and a top-secret research facility: The school is rooted in Christian ideology (but very few students are Christian), Mass is compulsory, cameras capture everything, and “maintenance” workers carry Tasers. When talented poet Emma disappears, three students, distrusting of the school administration, launch their own investigation. Brilliant chemist Neesha believes Emma has run away to avoid taking the heat for the duo’s illegal drug enterprise. Her boyfriend, an athlete called Aiden, naturally wants to find her. Evan, a chess prodigy who relies on patterns and has difficulty processing social signals, believes he knows Emma better than anyone. While the school is an insidious character on its own and the big reveal is slightly psychologically disturbing, Evan’s positioning as a tragic hero with an uncertain fate—which is connected to his stalking of Emma (even before her disappearance)—is far more unsettling. The ’90s setting provides the backdrop for tongue-in-cheek technological references but doesn’t do anything for the plot. Student testimonials and voice-to-text transcripts punctuate the three-way third-person narration that alternates among Neesha, Evan, and Aiden. Emma, Aiden, and Evan are assumed to be white; Neesha is Indian. Students are from all over the world, including Asia and the Middle East.

Only marginally intriguing. (Mystery. 15-18)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266203-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing.

THE STARS WE STEAL

For the second time in her life, Leo must choose between her family and true love.

Nineteen-year-old Princess Leonie Kolburg’s royal family is bankrupt. In order to salvage the fortune they accrued before humans fled the frozen Earth 170 years ago, Leonie’s father is forcing her to participate in the Valg Season, an elaborate set of matchmaking events held to facilitate the marriages of rich and royal teens. Leo grudgingly joins in even though she has other ideas: She’s invented a water filtration system that, if patented, could provide a steady income—that is if Leo’s calculating Aunt Freja, the Captain of the ship hosting the festivities, stops blocking her at every turn. Just as Leo is about to give up hope, her long-lost love, Elliot, suddenly appears onboard three years after Leo’s family forced her to break off their engagement. Donne (Brightly Burning, 2018) returns to space, this time examining the fascinatingly twisted world of the rich and famous. Leo and her peers are nuanced, deeply felt, and diverse in terms of sexuality but not race, which may be a function of the realities of wealth and power. The plot is fast paced although somewhat uneven: Most of the action resolves in the last quarter of the book, which makes the resolutions to drawn-out conflicts feel rushed.

A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing. (Science fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-94894-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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