Tipping between science fiction and fantasy, this series opener will catch readers who enjoy melodramatic sparring and those...

THESE BROKEN STARS

From the Starbound series , Vol. 1

Overdone characterizations threaten to overwhelm an exciting outer-space adventure.

When the richest girl in the galaxy and a burned-out war hero from lowly beginnings are the only survivors of a spaceship crash that kills 50,000 people, they grudgingly cooperate to survive. Their escape pod lands far from the ship, so Lilac and Tarver trek through cold and rain to reach the main crash site. This unknown planet has been terraformed, but frighteningly, there are no colonists—or anyone else. When they reach it, the ship’s a hazardous tomb of rotting bodies. The jam-packed plot incorporates telepathy, energy-matter conversion, an unknown life form, an explosion, two cave-ins and a temporary death. Lilac and Tarver alternate first-person narration; ratcheting up the suspense are single-page chapters in which an unknown authority interrogates Tarver. Less successful is the seemingly endless (and textually forced) clashing between the protagonists. He’s bitter and occasionally rough (in the throes of a fever, he hits her); she’s an entitled heiress whose pale, white skin warrants mention no matter who’s narrating. It’s a thin, annoying line between love and hate (guess which wins) that makes the adventure elements vie for attention.

Tipping between science fiction and fantasy, this series opener will catch readers who enjoy melodramatic sparring and those who can look past it; for outer-space thrills with moral complexity, see Beth Revis’ Across the Universe series. (Science fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7102-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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A slow-burn romance but a burnout of a plot.

WILD IS THE WITCH

A young witch unintentionally releases a fatal curse in this frenemies-to-lovers romance.

The Foggy Mountain Wildlife Refuge on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is the perfect place for Iris Gray and her mother, who, as witches, have a special affinity for helping animals but keep their magic secret. College intern Pike Alder, who assists at the sanctuary, has an incredible talent for getting under Iris’ skin and freely expresses his intense dislike and mistrust of witches. When she reaches her boiling point with his arrogance, Iris comes up with a spell to work through her frustration. Unfortunately, her magic goes awry, and the curse that should have burned away without impact instead goes into an injured owl that takes flight, leaving the sanctuary behind. With Pike accompanying her for safety at her mother’s insistence, Iris sets out into the forest to find the owl; if it dies before Iris can reverse the spell, the curse could burn Pike alive. The Pacific Northwest rainforest setting is palpable as the two trek through the backcountry in search of the owl, and their banter moves the story forward as romantic feelings start to build. Unfortunately, Iris’ repetitive internal dialogue, always reminding readers of the stakes, lessens any tension and makes subsequent scenes feel inevitable. Characters are cued as White.

A slow-burn romance but a burnout of a plot. (Fantasy romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72822-945-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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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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