Stuffed with cameos from nearly every character of note from the Shadowhunter universe, there's not even enough room here...

TALES FROM THE SHADOWHUNTER ACADEMY

Ten previously published short stories take Simon from amnesia to Ascension.

After losing both his memory and his vampirism at the climax of City of Heavenly Fire (2014), Simon Lewis can't bear to be around the nigh-strangers who were once his best friend, his Shadowhunter allies, and his girlfriend, Isabelle. What better way for Simon to regain his lost life than to attend demon-fighting school, prepare to drink from the Mortal Cup, and hope Ascension grants him both phenomenal cosmic powers and his lost memories? Over the course of two years, the white, Jewish Simon goes from being a gangly nerd to someone who fits in among the "near perfect specimen[s] of humanity" who are his classmates. Though Simon builds a social network among both Shadowhunter and mundane students, the institution itself never becomes any less stunningly discriminatory (the mundanes, as "dregs," live in the slime- and rat-infested basements, for instance), making Simon's efforts feel futile. Simon himself measures his own improvement by gaining enough bulk to "trade in his ladies'-sized gear for a men's size." With chapters originally published as individual e-books over the course of 2015, this compilation shows its seams; the characters and setting are reintroduced every 60-odd pages.

Stuffed with cameos from nearly every character of note from the Shadowhunter universe, there's not even enough room here for fan service . (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4325-8

Page Count: 672

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers...

NEVER FALL DOWN

A harrowing tale of survival in the Killing Fields.

The childhood of Arn Chorn-Pond has been captured for young readers before, in Michelle Lord and Shino Arihara's picture book, A Song for Cambodia (2008). McCormick, known for issue-oriented realism, offers a fictionalized retelling of Chorn-Pond's youth for older readers. McCormick's version begins when the Khmer Rouge marches into 11-year-old Arn's Cambodian neighborhood and forces everyone into the country. Arn doesn't understand what the Khmer Rouge stands for; he only knows that over the next several years he and the other children shrink away on a handful of rice a day, while the corpses of adults pile ever higher in the mango grove. Arn does what he must to survive—and, wherever possible, to protect a small pocket of children and adults around him. Arn's chilling history pulls no punches, trusting its readers to cope with the reality of children forced to participate in murder, torture, sexual exploitation and genocide. This gut-wrenching tale is marred only by the author's choice to use broken English for both dialogue and description. Chorn-Pond, in real life, has spoken eloquently (and fluently) on the influence he's gained by learning English; this prose diminishes both his struggle and his story.

Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers will seek out the history themselves. (preface, author's note) (Historical fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-173093-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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