Aggressively mediocre—with hardly any smithing.


From the Loresmith series , Vol. 1

A girl is destined to become a magical blacksmith who helps her country’s restoration.

Ara’s father was the Loresmith—a blacksmith gifted by the gods with the magic to equip and guide the Loreknights in order to prevent the evil Vokkan Empire from overrunning Saetlund. But corruption weakened Saetlund from within, and it fell. Fifteen years later, Ara’s a smith who doesn’t know how to access her Loresmith destiny, as her father didn’t survive to train her. When Saetlund’s princess and prince return from exile to seek her out (believing that getting the gods’ blessing will enable Ara to take up the Loresmith mantle and turn the tide against the Vokkans), she sets off on a quest with them, forming a small band, with ties to the Resistance, naturally. The storyline is straightforward and mostly free of obstacles and setbacks; there are only minimal intrigues and twists (all of which are heavily forecasted). The third-person limited narrative following Ara is slow-paced and given to large chunks of exposition. At the conclusion, one quest is finished in time for the next quest to be assigned, and a character who (hopefully) will have more prominence in the sequel is teased. Ara is white; the royals are brown skinned, as is Ara’s love interest. While there’s association between ethnicity and geography, the racial diversity has no impact on the plot or world.

Aggressively mediocre—with hardly any smithing. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-95412-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun.


From the Skyward series , Vol. 2

As if the threat of huge, raging monsters from hyperspace isn’t scary enough, hotshot fighter pilot Spensa Nightshade becomes embroiled in an alien empire’s politics.

On a desperate mission to steal hyperdrive technology from the crablike invading Krell who are threatening to destroy her beleaguered home colony on Detritus, Spensa, who is white, holographically disguises herself as a violet-skinned UrDail and slips into a Krell pilot training program for “lesser species.” The discovery that she’s being secretly trained not to fight planet-destroying delvers but to exterminate humans, who are (with some justification, having kindled three interstellar wars in past centuries) regarded in certain quarters as an irrationally aggressive species, is just one in a string of revelations as, in between numerous near-death experiences on practice flights, she struggles to understand both her own eerie abilities and the strange multispecies society in which she finds herself. There are so many characters besides Spensa searching for self-identity—notably her comic-relief sidekick AI M-Bot, troubled human friend Jorgen back on Detritus, and Morriumur, member of a species whose color-marked sexes create trial offspring—that even with a plot that defaults to hot action and escalating intrigue the pacing has a stop and start quality. Still, Spensa’s habitual over-the-top recklessness adds a rousing spark, and the author folds in plenty of banter as well as a colorful supporting cast.

Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-55581-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes


From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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