An exciting, layered, action-filled tale with a cast of sympathetic characters.

SKYHUNTER

From the Skyhunter series , Vol. 1

A group of young soldiers defend their home against the evil Karensa Federation.

Talin is a Basean refugee in Mara, treated with xenophobic cruelty by many but recognized for her skill by her battle partner, Corian, and friends Rooke and Jeran. The capture of a former Federation fighter named Redlen with magnificent, strange abilities forces her into new territory and life-altering decisions. Redlen exposes details about the Federation’s genetically engineered army of Ghosts, zombielike creatures, leading Talin and the rest to hatch a desperate scheme to infiltrate their stronghold and sabotage their production—against explicit orders. Their mission and its aftermath help Talin understand more about her role in Mara and her reasons for defending a nation where she is often persecuted. In this cinematically imagined dystopia, Talin uses sign language to communicate since early trauma in her homeland at the hands of the Federation resulted in the cessation of her speech. In a deftly plotted first-person narrative that is both expansive and detailed in its depiction of the setting and includes quick-moving battle sequences, Talin’s trajectory is convincing. In a few instances, her earnest realizations about her own motivations can feel a bit pat, but this is a mostly nuanced and poignant story that is left wide open for a welcome sequel. Characters have a range of skin tones; one male character is in love with another man.

An exciting, layered, action-filled tale with a cast of sympathetic characters. (map) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-22168-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends.

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RED QUEEN

From the Red Queen series , Vol. 1

Amid a war and rising civil unrest, a young thief discovers the shocking power within her that sparks a revolution.

At 17, Mare knows that without an apprenticeship or job, her next birthday will bring a conscription to join the war. She contributes to her poor family’s income the only way she can, stealing from the Silvers, who possess myriad powers and force her and her fellow Reds into servitude. The Silvers literally bleed silver, and they can manipulate metal, plants and animals, among many other talents. When Mare’s best friend, Kilorn, loses his job and is doomed to conscription, she is determined to change his fate. She stumbles into a mysterious stranger after her plan goes awry and is pulled out of her village and into the world of Silver royalty. Once inside the palace walls, it isn’t long before Mare learns that powers unknown to red-blooded humans lie within her, powers that could lead a revolution. Familiar tropes abound. Mare is revealed as a great catalyst for change among classes and is groomed from rags to riches, and of course, seemingly kind characters turn out to be foes. However, Aveyard weaves a compelling new world, and Mare and the two men in her life evolve intriguingly as class tension rises. Revolution supersedes romance, setting the stage for action-packed surprises.

An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-231063-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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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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