More terrific combat scenes, but a bit too heavy on character development to fly at speed.

CYTONIC

From the Skyward series , Vol. 3

The third episode in the Skyward series sees red-hot space pilot Spensa Nightshade coming into her full powers as she battles both pirates and space monsters in a strange interdimensional nowhere.

Leaving her ongoing feud with evil galactic overlords on temporary hold back in the somewhere, Spensa passes through a portal to a realm where time and memories tend to slip away, bits of landscape randomly snipped from reality float like islands around a distant sunburst—and teeming hordes of disembodied, malevolent entities called delvers are relentlessly hunting her down. Fun as all the space-opera elements are, though, they continue a trend from the preceding volume in deadening the efforts of Spensa and sidekicks old and new to establish personal identities or backstories, wrestle with inner demons, or, in the case of the AI M-Bot, practice insults and deal with newly discovered emotions. A few wild aerial dogfights and larger battles later, however, Spensa has come into her cytonic superpowers, found out some crucial things about the delvers, and made her way back to the somewhere. Now for those overlords….McSweeney contributes a map, lovingly detailed sets of spaceship plans, and galleries of the multispecies cast members. Wild diversity of intergalactic body types notwithstanding, human members seem uniformly White.

More terrific combat scenes, but a bit too heavy on character development to fly at speed. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-55585-5

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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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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