Perplexing yet satisfying: If time moves in a circle, is a linear narrative possible?

THE ELECTRIC KINGDOM

In a world where humanity has almost been wiped out, a teenage girl and her dog set out on a mysterious and potentially foolhardy journey.

Nico and her parents survived the flu spread by ravenous Flu-flies by retreating to an isolated farmhouse, where they lived on supplies brought by the Deliverer. Then Nico’s mother fell ill and died. When it seems that her father will succumb as well, he tells her that a beloved story from her childhood is actually true and that she must travel to see for herself a certain geological anomaly. Nico sets out into woods she has only ever viewed from her window, quickly learning of the darkness that exists outside—as well as the beauty. As her journey continues, she meets others, including Kit, a serious 12-year-old. They all sense that they have been here before—that perhaps time runs in a loop. In this near-future setting, social constructs of our present day influence the story in a way that is well executed and resonant. Strange and off-kilter, this is not a simple post-apocalyptic novel but instead a quiet, philosophical exploration of humanity with a touch of science fiction around the edges. Defying strict genre categories, Arnold leaves readers wondering and unbalanced until the final page. Nico and Kit are White; other characters are Black and Jordanian.

Perplexing yet satisfying: If time moves in a circle, is a linear narrative possible? (Post-apocalyptic. 13-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-20222-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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