Less a bold rebellion, more a boring bureaucracy, albeit with a strong, doomed female protagonist.

STAR WARS: QUEEN'S SHADOW

A former queen plays politics to guide the galaxy’s future in this Star Wars novel.

After four years as Naboo’s Queen Amidala, Padmé Amidala Naberrie retires…to become a senator of the galactic Republic. Accompanied by new handmaidens—bodyguards/body doubles—to Coruscant, she tries to fight slavery (and find young Anakin Skywalker), avoid assassination, restore her public image, and retain her idealism. Tasked with reviving a main character from the often critically and popularly reviled prequels, Johnston (That Inevitable Victorian Thing, 2017, etc.) explores the diverse settings, delights in the alien cultures, and even expands the romantic possibilities to include same-sex relationships. Padmé and her handmaidens are assumed white; other humanoids' races are only noted when not white. The various species of Star Wars appear here but only as background characters. Readers without encyclopedic Star Wars knowledge receive name-dropping and cross-referencing rather than character development, while critics of Episodes I through III may still reject this interlude’s earnest explanations for the cinematic sources’ flaws, which are reproduced here—too much politicking, not enough passion. Padmé is a potent symbol but remains a flat character, restricted by her political role, her ornate, excessively described costuming, and her circumscribed cinematic fate. Sabé, her former but steadfast handmaid, has more depth but regrettably fewer chapters.

Less a bold rebellion, more a boring bureaucracy, albeit with a strong, doomed female protagonist. (Science fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02425-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s.

GRIS GRIMLY'S FRANKENSTEIN

A slightly abridged graphic version of the classic that will drive off all but the artist’s most inveterate fans.

Admirers of the original should be warned away by veteran horror artist Bernie Wrightson’s introductory comments about Grimly’s “wonderfully sly stylization” and the “twinkle” in his artistic eye. Most general readers will founder on the ensuing floods of tiny faux handwritten script that fill the opening 10 pages of stage-setting correspondence (other lengthy letters throughout are presented in similarly hard-to-read typefaces). The few who reach Victor Frankenstein’s narrative will find it—lightly pruned and, in places, translated into sequences of largely wordless panels—in blocks of varied length interspersed amid sheaves of cramped illustrations with, overall, a sickly, greenish-yellow cast. The latter feature spidery, often skeletal figures that barrel over rough landscapes in rococo, steampunk-style vehicles when not assuming melodramatic poses. Though the rarely seen monster is a properly hard-to-resolve jumble of massive rage and lank hair, Dr. Frankenstein looks like a decayed Lyle Lovett with high cheekbones and an errant, outsized quiff. His doomed bride, Elizabeth, sports a white lock à la Elsa Lanchester, and decorative grotesqueries range from arrangements of bones and skull-faced flowers to bunnies and clownish caricatures.

Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s. (Graphic classic. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-186297-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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