Car chases, explosions and action galore—awesome.

SCAN

From the Scan series , Vol. 1

Tate Archer stumbles into a secret intergalactic conflict.

Frederick Archer insists that his son learn multiple languages, math, science and self-defense—all in the name of some mysterious family responsibility. Tate rebels by sneaking into his father’s lab and borrowing an invention, a scanner. The next thing Tate knows, he and his girlfriend are on the run from police and secret-agent types. His father—before paying the price for Tate’s mistake—spills the family secret: Aliens indistinguishable from humans invaded 400 years ago, systematically infiltrated powerful positions and are outbreeding humanity. Only one-third of the population is biologically human. Indeed, most aliens think they’re human; their central organization ruthlessly guards their secret. The Archers are part of a coalition of human families in the know trying to preserve humanity. Tate puzzles out his father’s scanner while dodging aliens and discovering other coalition members’ unpleasant truths. Untrustworthy adults force Tate to solve his own problems—his skill with improvised, household-materials chemistry allows him to do so explosively, alongside his competent, quick-thinking girlfriend. The chemistry applications are delightful, but bio-geeks might be skeptical about the mechanics of the invasion. The prose sometimes overnarrates, pairing showing with redundant telling, but action keeps the plot moving. The resolution casts doubt on everything Tate and readers think they know, setting up for a sequel.

Car chases, explosions and action galore—awesome. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-16065-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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A disappointing delivery on a potentially gripping second volume.

THE BALLAD OF NEVER AFTER

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 2

Evangeline faces new dangers in her quest for happiness in this follow-up to 2021’s Once Upon a Broken Heart.

As Evangeline Fox seeks a cure for her poisoned husband, Prince Apollo, the enticing and infuriating Fate Jacks reappears, offering to save Apollo if she unlocks the Valory Arch. Remembering the long list of ills brought upon her by the Fate, Evangeline refuses. When the new heir arrives and Apollo wakes with a new curse and glowing red eyes, she is forced to delve into the mysteries of the Valors and find the arch’s four missing magical stones whose powers are luck, truth, mirth, and youth. The inclusion of expanded Valor lore alongside the preexisting blend of fairy-tale and paranormal creatures is intriguing and fits the overarching theme of storytelling as history. The ongoing use of emotions as a scale for displaying and determining one’s humanity, especially by Fates, is equally interesting. Unfortunately, the impact of Evangeline’s often amusing narration and numerous surprising plot twists is diluted by the meandering pacing, convoluted sensory descriptions, and close focus on Evangeline’s fluctuating attraction toward her potential love interests. Despite the positive emphasis on hope and happily-ever-afters, Evangeline’s romantic relationship with Jacks borders on manipulative and toxic. Evangeline reads White; side characters are fantasy diverse.

A disappointing delivery on a potentially gripping second volume. (map) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-26842-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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