A boy-loves-boy dystopian fantasy for anyone needing a heartbreaking thrill.

FRAGILE REMEDY

A genetically engineered boy struggles to survive a dystopia and win over the boy he adores.

Nate was manufactured to be a commodity. When lung-rot threatened the upper echelon of Gathos City, GEMs (Genetically Engineered Medi-tissue) like Nate were bioengineered for their restorative blood. Nate’s parents refused to let the privileged class vampirically use him, and they smuggled him out of Gathos—dying in the process. Liberated but orphaned, Nate faces other threats: GEMs die without a special remedy, and a street gang hunts GEMs to harvest them. So Nate conceals his genetics for self-preservation and to prevent the merry band of misfits he lives with from being accused of unwittingly harboring him. Plus, the head of those misfits, Reed, is the most beautiful boy Nate has ever wanted to kiss. Grit, grime, and steampunk tinkering define a landscape that could easily serve Oliver Twist or Blade Runner. Acts of terrorism, conflicting castes, and meals of rotted fruit underscore the struggle. But there’s beauty in the connectivity Nate’s band of friends find in surviving together. This is a dystopian labyrinth leading to love, with minotaurs in the form of murder, drug fiends, and the raw need to survive. Nate has golden-brown skin, love interest Reed has dark-brown skin, and their friend Sparks is cued as trans.

A boy-loves-boy dystopian fantasy for anyone needing a heartbreaking thrill. (Fantasy. 14-17)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63583-056-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Flux

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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“Cinderella” but with genocide and rebel plots.

ASH PRINCESS

From the Ash Princess series , Vol. 1

The daughter of a murdered queen plots to take back what is hers.

With her country seized and her mother, the Fire Queen of Astrea, murdered by invaders when she was only 6 years old, Theodosia has been a prisoner for 10 years, stripped of her crown, her people enslaved. Theo (renamed Thora by her captors) is at the mercy of the Kaiser—the fearsome ruler of the Kalovaxians—enduring his malicious whims in order to survive. But when the Kaiser forces Theo to execute her own father, survival is no longer good enough, and she finally takes up the mantle of queen to lead her people’s rise to resistance in a land saturated in elemental magic. Debut author Sebastian has invigorated some well-worn fantasy tropes (a displaced heir, an underground rebellion, and a love triangle that muddies the distinctions between enemies and allies), delivering a narrative that crackles with political intrigue, powerful and debilitating magic, and the violent mechanisms of colonization even as it leaves sequel-primed gaps. Some details—like Theo’s crisis of identity and Hamletian indecision—work well to submerge readers in a turbulent and enthralling plot; others, like racialized descriptions that fall short of actual representation (Atreans are dark-haired and olive-skinned, Kalovaxians are blond and pale-skinned) and the use of magic-induced madness for narrative shock and awe feel lazy and distracting among more nuanced elements.

“Cinderella” but with genocide and rebel plots. (Fantasy. 14-17)

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6706-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.

FIREBORNE

From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

What happens to the world after the dust from a revolution has settled?

Friends Annie and Lee were children from very different circles when Atreus killed Lee’s father, dragonlord Leon Stormscourge, ending the uprising on the bloodiest day in Callipolis’ history. For too long the dragonriders held all the power while their people starved and lived in fear. Nine years later, a new generation of dragonriders is emerging, children selected and trained on merit, not bloodlines. Their dragons are finally mature enough for them to compete for Firstrider, a position of power that can give Lee back a small part of what his family lost. However, not only is Lee competing against Annie, but rumors are circulating that some of the royal family have survived and have dragons of their own. Everyone will have to make a choice: Restore the old regime, support the First Protector and the new caste system he created, or look for a new way, no matter what the cost. From the beginning, this book pulls readers in with political intrigue and action. What keeps them invested, however, are the complex relationships between many cast members. Choices are complex, and the consequences for all could be deadly. The world is well fleshed out and believable. Annie and Lee are light skinned; secondary characters are diverse, and race is a nonissue in this world.

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes. (author’s note) (Fantasy.14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51821-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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