A sci-fi romp with ample intergalactic twists to keep readers satisfied.

THE LAST 8

From the Last 8 series , Vol. 1

“Welcome to Area 51. Home to the Last Teenagers on Earth.”

After aliens invade Earth and wipe out humanity, Clover Martinez’s world becomes an unrelenting nightmare. Six months pass following the fateful invasion. Evading the occasional alien patrol, Clover wanders the barren landscape until she discovers fellow teen survivors at the infamous Area 51. Dubbing themselves the Last Teenagers on Earth, the motley, racially diverse group hole up at the base, led by their protective leader, Violet. With concise chapters and unadorned language, Pohl’s debut favors spectacle over depth and succeeds in providing enough intrigue to carry readers from page to page. At the novel’s center is Clover, an aromantic Mexican-American girl who prefers logic over emotion. With some difficulty, Clover convinces the reluctant group to fight back against the extraterrestrial menace. But when she unearths a spaceship hidden behind the walls of Area 51 and the group manages to capture one of the aliens, Clover starts to unravel secrets and lies that are threatening to tear down her life all over again. Surprises come in waves even though the novel’s not entirely unpredictable (at least until the curious ending). The aliens—a hodgepodge of metallic limbs and humanlike features—unnerve but don’t leave much of an impression.

A sci-fi romp with ample intergalactic twists to keep readers satisfied. (Science fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6989-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations.

CARAVAL

From the Caraval series , Vol. 1

Magic, mystery, and love intertwine and invite in this newest take on the “enchanted circus” trope.

Sisters raised by their abusive father, a governor of a colonial backwater in a world vaguely reminiscent of the late 18th century, Scarlett and Donatella each long for something more. Scarlett, olive-skinned, dark of hair and attitude, longs for Caraval, the fabled, magical circus helmed by the possibly evil Master Legend Santos, while blonde, sunny Tella finds comfort in drink and the embraces of various men. A slightly awkward start, with inconsistencies of attitude and setting, rapidly smooths out when they, along with handsome “golden-brown” sailor Julian, flee to Caraval on the eve of Scarlett’s arranged marriage. Tella disappears, and Scarlett must navigate a nighttime world of magic to find her. Caraval delights the senses: beautiful and scary, described in luscious prose, this is a show readers will wish they could enter. Dresses can be purchased for secrets or days of life; clocks can become doors; bridges move: this is an inventive and original circus, laced with an edge of horror. A double love story, one sensual romance and the other sisterly loyalty, anchors the plot, but the real star here is Caraval and its secrets.

Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-09525-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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