Cinematic battles and a race against time keep the excitement high, but the focus on girls looking out for each other is...

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WONDER WOMAN

WARBRINGER

From the DC Icons series

DC Comics opens its new line of media tie-in novels with this Wonder Woman origin story.

Bardugo introduces readers to Wonder Woman with two alternating perspectives: Diana, princess of Themyscira, and Alia, a 17-year-old New Yorker. While most Amazons are women warriors rewarded with new lives after death, Diana alone is untested, molded from clay, eager to prove herself worthy. Diana’s rescue of Alia from a shipwreck forces the princess into exile in order to prevent a foreordained global catastrophe. Alia wonders if her unusually dressed, oddly naïve rescuer is in a cult. Nerdy, orphaned, biracial, and identifying as black, Alia is awkward and mostly friendless despite her family’s massive wealth. Rescued from disaster by this bronze-skinned white girl who looks “like a supermodel who moonlighted as a cage fighter,” Alia learns her very existence might cause the deaths of millions. With the help of her brother and their two best friends (snarky Brazilian Theo and Indian Nim, who’s queer, fat, fashionable, and fabulous), Alia accompanies Diana on a quest to end the cycle of death. This will absolutely satisfy pre-existing fans of Wonder Woman, but it also readily stands alone for non–superhero fans (although with the first live-action Wonder Woman film opening two months before the novel’s launch, it’s likely to contribute to a new fan base for Diana).

Cinematic battles and a race against time keep the excitement high, but the focus on girls looking out for each other is what makes this tie-in shine. Crossed fingers for a sequel. (Superhero fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54973-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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An entertaining fantasy set in a world that readers will want to revisit.

THESE HOLLOW VOWS

Brie risks the deadly land of the Fae to save her sister.

Brie doesn’t trust many people other than Jas, her eternally hopeful sister, and Sebastian, mage apprentice and Brie’s secret love (as if she had time for romance). Brie struggles to meet the payments for the magical contracts binding their lives to Madame Vivias, supplementing her cleaning work by stealing from the rich. While the land of Faerie tempts other girls with word of a castle, a lavish ball, and a fae prince seeking a wife, Brie mistrusts the creatures who capitalize on humanity’s greed. When Jas’ contract is sold to the fae, Brie braves the golden Seelie queen’s court, meets the noble Prince Ronan, and travels on to the Unseelie king’s shadow court. In the process she discovers love, historical secrets, atrocities, and her own hidden strength. While many elements regarding the fae and a love triangle will feel familiar to fans of the genre, and the magic could have been more fleshed out, discussions of power, inequity, trust, and hope expand the worldbuilding in refreshing ways. Similarly, consideration of the balance between truth and secrets, lies and stories, is intriguing as it’s applied to characters, relationships, and historical lore. Despite certain predictable reveals, the plot itself, which starts off slowly, picks up and is pleasantly convoluted with multiple satisfying surprises. Major human characters read as White.

An entertaining fantasy set in a world that readers will want to revisit. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-38657-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful.

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SALT TO THE SEA

January 1945: as Russians advance through East Prussia, four teens’ lives converge in hopes of escape.

Returning to the successful formula of her highly lauded debut, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys combines research (described in extensive backmatter) with well-crafted fiction to bring to life another little-known story: the sinking (from Soviet torpedoes) of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff. Told in four alternating voices—Lithuanian nurse Joana, Polish Emilia, Prussian forger Florian, and German soldier Alfred—with often contemporary cadences, this stints on neither history nor fiction. The three sympathetic refugees and their motley companions (especially an orphaned boy and an elderly shoemaker) make it clear that while the Gustloff was a German ship full of German civilians and soldiers during World War II, its sinking was still a tragedy. Only Alfred, stationed on the Gustloff, lacks sympathy; almost a caricature, he is self-delusional, unlikable, a Hitler worshiper. As a vehicle for exposition, however, and a reminder of Germany’s role in the war, he serves an invaluable purpose that almost makes up for the mustache-twirling quality of his petty villainy. The inevitability of the ending (including the loss of several characters) doesn’t change its poignancy, and the short chapters and slowly revealed back stories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning.

Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful. (author’s note, research and sources, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-16030-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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