Readers will often find themselves vacillating between like and dislike.

UNISON SPARK

What if the ultimate social network tried to take over the world?

In this debut novel with Matrix overtones, those who can afford it live a “BetterLife” in the alternate reality of the Unison social network. Chapters alternate perspectives between blue-pigtailed Anna (a.k.a. Mistletoe), who ekes out an existence in the dark subcanopy of Eastern Seaboard City, and Ambrose Truax, son of the Unison CEO and the youngest UniCorp Associate, who lavishly resides topside in an atmoscraper. The 15-year-olds cross paths after Ambrose flees his Level Seven hypothalamus modification to live without sleep and become more efficient. In an underground world of terrorists plotting to overthrow Unison, the teens discover that they are actually hybrid organisms built to become part of Unison. The plot becomes one chase after another as Mistletoe seeks out more information on their origin and Ambrose attempts to block the launch of Unison 3.0 from his maniacal father/creator. Together, they learn the real meaning of friending. The best parts of the uneven novel are the engaging and even satirical descriptions of the social network (“Too many Events to attend? Feeling overwhelmed? Fake your own Account deletion with Unigone!”). The rest of the adventures are disjointed and far less entertaining.

Readers will often find themselves vacillating between like and dislike. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9293-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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