Save this action-packed but derivative adventure for die-hard shonen manga buffs.

DARKNESS HIDDEN

From the Name of the Blade series , Vol. 2

The Underworld makes another bid for control of Mio’s mystical sword.

In this sequel to The Name of the Blade (2014), Mio and her friends are still celebrating their defeat of the Nekomata with their allies in the Kitsune Kingdom when they are attacked again. This time their enemy’s tools are the Shikome, the “Foul Women,” whose feathers carry a deadly contagion. The gang is ill-prepared to handle the Shikome since they are still coping with the fallout from their first adventure. Mio’s connection with her dangerous katana is growing ever more seductive and powerful, while Rachel is discovering that her abduction by the Nekomata has left her terribly changed. Select third-person passages from other characters’ perspectives are interspersed throughout Mio’s first-person narration, and they emphasize how completely the Shikome plague overwhelms London. The too-tidy ending consequently feels like a cop-out, despite the setup provided for the inevitable third book in the series. Nonetheless, the intense fight scenes and doomed romance will still appeal to many readers, especially if they’re inclined to appreciate Marriott’s obvious manga influences and willing to overlook generally shallow characterization. At least one major plot twist will immediately remind savvy fans of a similar storyline in Tite Kubo’s Bleach.

Save this action-packed but derivative adventure for die-hard shonen manga buffs. (Urban fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6958-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

10 BLIND DATES

Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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