SALT & STONE

The second half of the race started in Fire & Flood (2014).

Tella’s made it through the jungle and desert, leaving ocean and mountain still to come in the four-ecosystem Brimstone Bleed. The winner will receive the Cure for the loved one infected by the race organizers to provide incentive for the selected Contenders to cooperate. Tella’s secondary agenda is love interest Guy’s plan to join, infiltrate and destroy the organizers after the race. Their romance hits major obstacles early on, primarily in the form of Guy’s belief that Tella needs to be saved and protected—he’s OK with that, but Tella isn’t. She resolves to stand up to him instead of blindly following, and she does so not just to gain his respect, but to respect herself. The next legs of the race lead to team-ups with familiar faces and newcomers of varying trustworthiness. The genetically engineered, intelligent companion animals with superpowers—the Pandoras—develop further as individual characters, causing nail-biting moments as they face dangers that in some cases outstrip those of their Contenders. Readers will fear for side characters, as they should: The organizers have mined the course with dangerous traps. Aside from a few moments of repetitive exposition in the first act, the prose is so tense that even in the characters’ few moments of rest, readers will twitch with anticipatory anxiety. The ending devastates.

Mind-blowingly intense. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-53748-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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