An engagingly suspenseful dystopian drama.

EPIDEMIC

From the Elifer Chronicles series , Vol. 1

Two children journey to find their missing mother and discover a country ravaged by disease in this YA novel.

This first book in Boglisch’s Elifer Chronicles series deals with topics that resonate with the contemporary moment, including governmental and public reactions to a seemingly unstoppable virus. Veronica Elifer, a single parent living in Claremore, an autonomous town, with two children, Maxwell and Karina, remains haunted by the day when a mysterious official took away her husband, Felix. Now, four years later, Maxwell and Karina return from school to find their home ransacked, Veronica missing, and “men dressed in dark clothing with sparkling medallions and cuffs stepping out of black cars” to pursue them. Maxwell and Karina have never suffered any kind of illness before, so when they make their way to an isolated town, they can’t comprehend a disease that “starts as a simple cold” and progresses to “pockmarks, swollen eyes and shallow cheeks, along with…open wounds and thin skin” before death. The omniscient narrator’s voice has a casual tone, and it’s a style that occasionally results in awkward phrasing: “On either side were men dressed in uniforms that resembled tuxes. Their eyes were covered in sunglasses and their mouths covered in doctor masks.” However, the novel’s great mystery has to do with how Felix’s and Veronica’s disappearances are related to the epidemic, and Boglisch, the author of Demon Song (2019), handles this aspect impressively. Just as an important piece of information seems about to be revealed, a character defers it—as when the twins ask Lex, their newfound friend and benefactor, what he means when he refers to “clean” children. As a result, readers will feel compelled to keep turning the pages of this timely novel.

An engagingly suspenseful dystopian drama.

Pub Date: July 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62420-514-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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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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An intriguing foray into a devastating future—and yet one where hope abides.

THE ONES WE'RE MEANT TO FIND

An apocalyptic future tests the bonds of love between sisters.

In this future world, climate change and other disasters have brought people together from different countries into eco-cities that levitate above their regions. Sixteen-year-old Kasey Mizuhara disassociates herself from people, moving through the world like an alien or ghost, observing her human companions. She prefers the cool comfort of logic, and the only one she loves and looks to for direction is Celia, her older sister. Cee, on the other hand, loves too much, continually pushing boundaries and breaking rules. Yet the sisters admire each other for their complementary strengths. As the world crumbles around them due to human-made disasters, Kasey strives to uncover the mystery surrounding Cee’s disappearance while Cee survives, marooned on an island and driven to search for Kasey through her wavering memories. While the science-fiction setting often does not feel fully realized enough to anchor readers in this world where the residents of the floating eco-cities carry out most of their nonessential activities in holographic mode, the story is a compelling exploration of humanity and its tendency toward selfishness and self-destruction. The pacing is maddeningly slow at first, but midway through, the action accelerates, racing to a breathless end. Readers who puzzle through this world will find a curious struggle that may answer the question of whether humanity is worth saving.

An intriguing foray into a devastating future—and yet one where hope abides. (Science fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-25856-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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