A fun setting but a forgettable book.

EVERY STAR A SONG

When the exiled Elyth is finally captured by the Hezra, she thinks she’s done for, but instead they make her a compelling offer in this second book of Posey’s Ascendance series.

Elyth has been on the run since the events of Every Sky a Grave (2020), and when she's finally caught, she's shocked to realize that one of her former friends from the Ascendance was working with the Hezra to hunt her down. Apparently the Ascendance and the Hezra have a problem, and not only have they agreed to work together to solve it, but they need Elyth’s help. Somehow, an entire planet has materialized out of nowhere. Not only that, but a team of experts including the Paragon herself, the great leader of Elyth’s former order, went to investigate the planet and were never heard from again. Elyth is to join a second team in order to find out what happened to that first crew and solve the mystery of the impossible planet. When they land on the surface, they find a deceptively normal landscape with hidden surprises. They notice that the planet itself seems to be changing around them, and it soon turns from simply strange to downright deadly. Posey tries hard for a lovably ragtag group dynamic here, but it doesn’t coalesce. Elyth’s attitudes toward different characters feel forced, as do the personalities of the other crew members. And while the plotting is better than in the previous novel, all the twists start to feel mechanical after the first few chapters end with a big reveal. The strange happenings on the seemingly haunted planet provide much better material, giving the book a delightfully spooky atmosphere that could have been further explored.

A fun setting but a forgettable book.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9821-0777-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Skybound Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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A haunting fable of a lonely, moribund world that is entirely too plausible.

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KLARA AND THE SUN

Nobelist Ishiguro returns to familiar dystopian ground with this provocative look at a disturbing near future.

Klara is an AF, or “Artificial Friend,” of a slightly older model than the current production run; she can’t do the perfect acrobatics of the newer B3 line, and she is in constant need of recharging owing to “solar absorption problems,” so much so that “after four continuous days of Pollution,” she recounts, “I could feel myself weakening.” She’s uncommonly intelligent, and even as she goes unsold in the store where she’s on display, she takes in the details of every human visitor. When a teenager named Josie picks her out, to the dismay of her mother, whose stern gaze “never softened or wavered,” Klara has the opportunity to learn a new grammar of portentous meaning: Josie is gravely ill, the Mother deeply depressed by the earlier death of her other daughter. Klara has never been outside, and when the Mother takes her to see a waterfall, Josie being too ill to go along, she asks the Mother about that death, only to be told, “It’s not your business to be curious.” It becomes clear that Klara is not just an AF; she’s being groomed to be a surrogate daughter in the event that Josie, too, dies. Much of Ishiguro’s tale is veiled: We’re never quite sure why Josie is so ill, the consequence, it seems, of genetic editing, or why the world has become such a grim place. It’s clear, though, that it’s a future where the rich, as ever, enjoy every privilege and where children are marshaled into forced social interactions where the entertainment is to abuse androids. Working territory familiar to readers of Brian Aldiss—and Carlo Collodi, for that matter—Ishiguro delivers a story, very much of a piece with his Never Let Me Go, that is told in hushed tones, one in which Klara’s heart, if she had one, is destined to be broken and artificial humans are revealed to be far better than the real thing.

A haunting fable of a lonely, moribund world that is entirely too plausible.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-31817-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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The perfect blend of sweet, sexy romance and a riveting, high-stakes survival story.

ICE PLANET BARBARIANS

From the Ice Planet Barbarians series , Vol. 1

A woman stolen by aliens crash-lands on an ice planet and finds love.

Dixon’s wildly popular series—it’s a fan favorite on TikTok and has a podcast dedicated to deconstructing each episode—is finally coming to print. In this first installment of the series, Georgie and at least a dozen other 22-year-old women are stolen from their homes on Earth by green aliens. Something goes wrong, and the aliens abandon their human cargo on an icy planet the women dub Not-Hoth. After engineering an escape plan, Georgie becomes their de facto leader. She bundles up and trudges out to find help and meets Vektal, a 7-foot blue alien and the leader of his tribe, the Sakh. His people have developed a symbiotic relationship with an organism called the khui, which allows the Sakh to survive the brutally cold temperatures of their home planet. Vektal’s people mate for life, but since there are very few women left, he has resigned himself to life without a partner. When he sees Georgie and his khui resonates, a physical response akin to purring, he knows she is destined to be his mate. Explorations of coercion, consent, and free will are woven throughout the story. Vektal’s unorthodox greeting shows that consent might operate differently in his world; but in the end, he learns that humans trapped in the worst of circumstances will still fight to control their own destinies. The book is fast-paced and sexy, but the major appeal might be Vektal. He is a romance main character stripped down to the core: desperate to find his partner and willing to do anything to keep her happy.

The perfect blend of sweet, sexy romance and a riveting, high-stakes survival story.

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-54602-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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