A moody conclusion to an often compelling, sometimes messy SF page-turner.

THE FIRST 7

From the Last 8 series , Vol. 2

Seven months have passed since the Last Teenagers on Earth incapacitated the brutal Hostemn alien threat.

Leaving behind a devastated, barren Earth via spaceship, the diverse group of teens decides on a little intergalactic exploration to escape from their traumatic post-invasion lives. A distress signal coming from Earth cuts their journey short, and soon, Clover and friends end up back on a seemingly renewed Earth looking for survivors. Their return, however, results in more complications. Otherworldly crystal clusters have sprung up, corrupting the land—as well as the group’s resident alien friend, Andy—and an invisible barrier prevents them from leaving. When Clover and the gang come across a colony of human survivors led by the mysterious Castor, their search for answers promises to sever the bonds that once united them. Pohl’s (The Last 8, 2019, etc.) conclusion to this benign duology succeeds in mapping out meaningful character development beyond the story’s main protagonist, Clover. As a result, this sequel makes for a more engaging read than the first installment. Moreover, Clover’s struggles with depression and PTSD and her identity as aromantic underscore the novel’s most poignant passages, and the author does an admirable job of addressing these topics with sensitivity that’s just short of cloying. Awkward pacing, repetitive language, and inconsistencies in characterization prevent the novel from achieving true greatness, but there’s much to appreciate here.

A moody conclusion to an often compelling, sometimes messy SF page-turner. (Science fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7346-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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

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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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Aza would claim that opinions about this book are unfairly influenced by “the gut-brain informational cycle,” which makes it...

TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN

Nerdfighter Green’s latest takes readers through Indianapolis and the human biome.

Aza Holmes doesn’t feel like herself. But “if half the cells inside of you are not you, doesn’t that challenge the whole notion of me as a singular pronoun…?” When a local billionaire—and the father of her childhood friend, a white boy named Davis—disappears, Aza (who seems to be white) and her BFF, Daisy Ramirez (who is cued as Latina), plot to find him and claim the reward, amid rumors of corruption and an underexplored side plot about semi-immortal reptiles. The story revolves around anxious Aza’s dissociation from her body and life. Daisy chatters about Star Wars fan fiction (and calls Aza “Holmesy” ad nauseam), and Davis monologues about astronomy, while Aza obsesses over infection, the ever present, self-inflicted wound on her finger, and whether she’s “just a deeply flawed line of reasoning.” The thin but neatly constructed plot feels a bit like an excuse for Green to flex his philosophical muscles; teenagers questioning the mysteries of consciousness can identify with Aza, while others might wish that something—anything—really happens. The exploration of Aza’s life-threatening compulsions will resonate deeply with some, titillate others, and possibly trigger those in between.

Aza would claim that opinions about this book are unfairly influenced by “the gut-brain informational cycle,” which makes it hard to say what anyone else will think—but this is the new John Green; people will read this, or not, regardless of someone else’s gut flora. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-55536-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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