An engaging space adventure with relatable characters.

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Taylor’s YA/New Adult SF adventure novel follows a teenager tasked with protecting the savior of humanity.

Jinx is a Protector who’s guarding Laris, whose amazing abilities are needed to save organic life from extinction; another character describes her as “an opening that universal energy pours through.” They’re on a spaceship headed to the Milky Way, and specifically the planet Earth, the crew’s long-abandoned home. This has Jinx on edge, as the Galactic Overseers restricted travel to that galaxy after an atomic war, so there’s no telling what’s waiting for them. Jinx and Laris are joined on their mission by nerdy scientists Jacob and Claire, who keep the ship and technology running; Hadu, who’s tasked with preparing Jinx for her work as a Protector; and DeeDee, an artificial intelligence that’s programmed to watch Jinx’s back. Jinx will do anything to protect Laris—even if it means adventuring with a ragtag group to a whole new world. However, it soon becomes clear that this Earth is nothing like the one inhabited by humanity’s ancestors. Soon, the crew discover that a couple of mercenaries have targeted Laris with tech, hired by an unknown client for a mysterious mission—and it appears that Sartillias, a dangerous enemy they’ve encountered before, is once again involved. Taylor pens an adventure story that will delight adult and young adult readers alike. It’s a direct sequel to Rise of the Protector (2019), and the author does a solid job of bringing readers who are unfamiliar with the first book into the story, without making it feel redundant for others. Many of the characters here are easy to like, thanks to DeeDee’s insatiable ice cream craving (and the mess it creates), Jinx’s absolute adoration of Laris, and the banter that Jinx and Jacob share: “You’re absolutely sure this one is safe?” Jinx says of a black hole. “Define ‘safe,’ ” Jacob responds. The author also shows skill at making impossible sequences, such as a wormhole travel scene, seem real, which makes for an entertaining read.

An engaging space adventure with relatable characters.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2022

ISBN: 979-8986053714

Page Count: 286

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022


From the Skyward series , Vol. 4

A grand finale, presented with a touch light enough to buoy all the self-actualization. Also: giant space worms!

Hotshot pilot Spensa Nightshade completes her apotheosis in this series closer, as human rebels and their alien allies mount a climactic assault on the galactic empire.

Having progressed from eating rats to being a cytonic superwarrior, Spensa is bonded by ties of loyalty and lust to former Skyward Flight leader, now Defiant Defense Force admiral, Jorgen—and also to a traumatized, planet-killing, interdimensional delver named Chet. Spensa would be well on her way to full-blown pacifism if the Superiority’s war of extermination against humans were not ramping up to a newly active phase. Nothing for it but a massive space battle, complete with dogfights, huge explosions, feints, betrayals, and tragic sacrifices…not to mention a swarm of ravenous, vacuum-dwelling vastworms eager to chow down on both sides. Though slowed by Spensa’s and others’ wrestling with conflicting impulses and weighing moral imperatives, the plot features more than enough large- and small-scale action set pieces to please space-opera fans. Better yet, the deliciously expansive cast includes not only humans and AIs but a broad array of aliens and semi-aliens from blue-skinned humanoids and a furry, haiku-reciting, fox-gerbil samurai with a (wait for it) laser sword to sentient crystals and empathic slugs. “The more different types of people we got into the flight, the stronger it would be,” Spensa reflects, and indeed, it’s collective action that proves decisive in the end.

A grand finale, presented with a touch light enough to buoy all the self-actualization. Also: giant space worms! (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593309711

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023


Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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