A book that aims high but attempts to cover too much territory.


Magic, murder, and mayhem abound in Foody’s debut.

Ever since her father rescued her from enslavement and adopted her when she was 3, 16-year-old Sorina has lived in Gomorrah, a huge, traveling circus-festival. Born without eyes yet magically able to see, Sorina is in charge of the Gomorrah Festival Freak Show. The attraction is full of Sorina’s illusions, semi-independent creations who have become like family: a scaled grandfather, a boneless acrobatic sister, a flaming baby, and more. But when someone begins to systematically murder her illusions, she begins to question the ways her magic can work. Fiercely loyal and protective, she’ll do whatever it takes to safeguard her family—even if it means working with extremely irritating-but-cute Luca, another Gomorrah jynx-worker. As the duo teams up to solve the murders and prevent more, their connection grows from irritation to friendship to attraction. Luca appears to be demisexual, disinclined to build sexual or romantic relationships without an emotional bond, and the couple has welcome conversations about the speed of their relationship and consent. While many characters are coded as white, it is implied that many of Gomorrah’s residents (including Sorina) are racially diverse. The novel clearly attempts to champion the outsider (and arguably does so successfully with demisexuality), but its disruption of our world’s stigmatization of disability is incomplete—both in its inconsistent questioning of “freak” (though Sorina’s arc is one of empowerment) and in Sorina’s disability-erasing magical sight.

A book that aims high but attempts to cover too much territory. (Fantasy. 14-17)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-373-21243-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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The shelves are already crowded with teens-training-for-space stories; there’s no need to make room for this one.


From the Final Six series , Vol. 1

Teens become astronauts in record time for an inaugural space mission.

After losing his family to “the greatest flood Rome has ever known,” skilled white Italian swimmer Leo Danieli would never have expected that in his darkest moment he would be drafted by the European Space Agency to attend the International Space Training Camp, where teens will train to terraform and colonize Jupiter’s moon Europa for human settlement. California native Naomi Ardalan, a second-generation Iranian-American, has also been chosen for her expertise in science and technology. During a period of violent climate change worldwide, Earth’s governments are desperate to draft teens for a space mission for which they have only a few weeks in which to prepare. Twenty-four teen finalists, many orphaned by cataclysmic natural disasters, have been chosen from all over the world to compete for this space colonization mission. Warnings come to Leo and Naomi that there is a more sinister aspect to this mission, especially after things go tragically awry with other candidates during the training. The relationship that develops between Naomi and Leo feels forced, as if their meeting necessitates speedy deployment of a romantic cliché. The use of predictable plot devices, along with the fundamentally ludicrous premise, undermines any believability that would make a reader invest in such an elaborate space journey.

The shelves are already crowded with teens-training-for-space stories; there’s no need to make room for this one. (Science fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-265894-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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Packed to the brim with intrigue and the promise of a third installment.


From the Ash Princess series , Vol. 2

A rebel queen fans the sparks of revolution.

Picking up immediately after the events of Ash Princess (2018), Sebastian’s expansive sequel finds young Queen Theodosia—her title newly reclaimed—fleeing her country and throne. With her people still enslaved, Theo will need allies and an army to free them, and her aunt, the fierce and manipulative pirate Dragonsbane, insists that the only way to acquire either is if Theo marries—something no queen has ever done in Astrea’s history. Wracked by nightmares, guilt, and fear that she is losing herself (and more), Theo balks but, with few options open to her, grudgingly agrees to meet with suitors at a grand invitational hosted by the king of the opulent Sta’Crivero. Readers looking for further immersion and expansion of Theo’s world will not be disappointed here. The narrative suffers marginally from lengthy details picked up and soon put back down with no real service to plot or character development, but Theo’s first-person narration remains enthralling with emotional immediacy as she learns more and more about her world and the people (and cruelty) within it. Vengeance, political corruption, and mystery are the main drivers, and questions of trauma, empathy, and sacrifice hold the reigns as Theo grapples with emergent magic, inconvenient romances, and the crushing weight of her choices as a leader.

Packed to the brim with intrigue and the promise of a third installment. (maps) (Fantasy. 14-17)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6710-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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