Full of derring-do and double crosses, this romantic adventure is thoroughly engrossing.

ROOK

A clever homage to The Scarlet Pimpernel, set in a post-apocalyptic future Europe.

In a distant future where most modern technology has been lost, Sophia Bellamy, 18, leads a double life. By day, she is a young woman of the Commonwealth whose arranged marriage will save her family from debt. By night, she’s the daring Red Rook, who rescues prisoners from the bloodthirsty revolutionaries of the Sunken City (which once was Paris). However, LeBlanc, the Sunken City’s fanatical Ministre of Security, has tracked the Red Rook back to Sophia’s home in Kent. Now Sophia must protect her family and the prisoners she has just rescued and determine whether her sly, all-too-charming fiance, René Hasard, is an enemy or an ally. Cameron (Unseen, 2014) riffs off Baroness Orczy’s sentimental classic without losing any of the romance and adventure that has made it perennially popular. Rich descriptions bring Sophia’s world—from the horrors of the Sunken City’s prisons to her glittering social milieu—to Technicolor life. Sophia’s wits and bravado make her an irresistible protagonist; René proves to be a worthy foil, though unfortunately the same cannot be said of LeBlanc. Still, the novel’s 456 pages mostly fly by thanks to the nonstop intrigue and the occasional swoon-worthy kiss.

Full of derring-do and double crosses, this romantic adventure is thoroughly engrossing. (Science fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: April 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-67599-4

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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An inspirational read.

THE LIGHT IN HIDDEN PLACES

A true story of faith, love, and heroism.

Stefania “Fusia” Podgórska longed for nothing more than to leave the rural Polish farm she was born on for the city of Przemyśl where her older sisters lived. At the age of 12, she did just that, finding a job with the Diamants, a family of Jewish shopkeepers who welcomed her into their lives. For three years they lived peacefully until the Germans dropped bombs on Przemyśl. The family struggled on as the war and anti-Semitism ramped up, but eventually, the Diamants were forced into a ghetto. Then 17, Catholic Fusia was determined to help them survive, even at the risk of her own safety, while also caring for her 6-year-old sister, Helena, after their family was taken by the Nazis for forced labor. Knowing the risks involved, Fusia made a bold decision to harbor Jews. As the number of people she sheltered increased, so did her panic about being caught, but she was determined to do what was right. Cameron (The Knowing, 2017, etc.) used Stefania’s unpublished memoir as well as interviews with family members as source material. She deftly details Fusia’s brave actions and includes moving family photographs in the author’s note. Narrated in the first person, the story highlights essential events in Fusia’s life while maintaining a consistent pace. Readers will be pulled in by the compelling opening and stay for the emotional journey.

An inspirational read. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35593-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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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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