A fun, fast-paced tale about seven young, immensely powerful prisoners.

Freaks of Nature

From the The Psion Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A YA thriller blends sci-fi, post-apocalyptic fiction, and a coming-of-age story.

In a near future when humanity has been laid low by a global pandemic, the vaccine that essentially saves the human race from eradication causes unforeseen side effects: a small percentage of the population is born with inexplicable mental abilities. Called psions, these children with intensely blue “starburst” eyes and unimaginable powers are forcibly separated from their families and sent to special institutions, which are more like prisons than schools. The storyline revolves around Devon McWilliams, a young psion (with the power to communicate with plants) whose failed attempt to escape his psi facility in the Badlands of North Dakota lands him in a mysterious government lockup with other detainees. Headed for death—or worse—the seven young psions include a butt-kicking telepath named Bai Lee Chen, the daughter of a U.S. senator, and a girl named Alya with healing powers who turns out to be Devon’s love interest. They must figure out a way to escape and find the mythical Psionic Underground Network (“They were all trapped within the same sinking vessel,” Devon muses. “In order to survive, they would have to find a way to work together”). Powered by adept writing, relentless pacing, numerous action scenes, and a cast of fully realized and authentic characters, this novel is undeniably a page-turner. But it is not without its faults. There are stories within the main story here: first-person narratives told from varying characters’ perspectives. While some of these are fully fleshed out, others seem rushed and incomplete. Additionally, the relationship between Devon and Alya comes across as contrived. The biggest flaw, however, involves the conclusion. After building tension throughout the entire tale, the book delivers an action sequence at the end that’s far too abrupt. And although Brotherlin (Monsters in the M.A.C., 1996) adequately examines potentially weighty YA themes like acceptance and self-confidence, some readers may be left wanting more thematic depth and profundity.

A fun, fast-paced tale about seven young, immensely powerful prisoners.

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63392-006-4

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Spencer Hill Press

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2016

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A sweet, slow-paced novel about a teen learning to love her body.


Greer Walsh wishes she were one person...unfortunately, with her large breasts, she feels like she’s actually three.

High school sophomore and math whiz Greer is self-conscious about her body. Maude and Mavis, as she’s named her large breasts, are causing problems for her. When Greer meets new kid Jackson Oates, she wishes even more that she had a body that she didn’t feel a need to hide underneath XXL T-shirts. While trying to impress Jackson, who has moved to the Chicago suburbs from Cleveland, Greer decides to try out for her school’s volleyball team. When she makes JV, Greer is forced to come to terms with how her body looks and feels in a uniform and in motion as well as with being physically close with her teammates. The story is told in the first person from Greer’s point of view. Inconsistent storytelling as well as Greer’s (somewhat distracting) personified inner butterfly make this realistic novel a slow but overall enjoyable read. The story contains elements of light romance as well as strong female friendships. Greer is white with a Christian mom and Jewish dad; Jackson seems to be white by default, and there is diversity among the secondary characters.

A sweet, slow-paced novel about a teen learning to love her body. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1524-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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With introspection replacing battles, this extended epilogue gives breathing room between dramatic arcs but is best for...


From the Court of Thorns and Roses series , Vol. 4

A glimpse of the characters dealing with rebuilding and fallout after A Court of Wings and Ruin (2017).

In a change of pace from the usual epic struggle against powerful forces, this slimmer-than-usual volume follows the cast during the festive Winter Solstice holiday. Nods to trouble on the horizon (dissent in the Illyrian ranks, Fae courts eyeing for expansion, and a politically fraught situation among humans) remain distant, the lack of progress at times resulting in frustrating repetition. Cassian’s and Mor’s backstories are explored, and prickly Amren’s low-key relationship storyline is supplemented by her High Fae adjustments (including bodily humor). While Elain is becoming more comfortable, she still wants nothing to do with Lucien (who feels like an outsider nearly everywhere and has his hands full with a self-destructive Tamlin). Severely struggling Nesta self-medicates through alcohol, meaningless sex, pushing everyone away, and finding every last seedy corner of the otherwise utopian Velaris. While Rhys handles politics, Feyre’s storyline revolves around Solstice shopping and art’s potential for healing trauma—when the lovers aren’t telepathically sexting or craving each other. Aside from occasional minor characters, most of the inhuman cast seem white. Several plotlines are predictably resolved.

With introspection replacing battles, this extended epilogue gives breathing room between dramatic arcs but is best for readers who’d prefer downtime with the characters over high stakes. (map, preview of next title) (Fantasy. 16-adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-631-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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