A mythical, magical, and introspective adventure that celebrates Mesoamerican heritage; more, please.


From the Age of the Seventh Sun series , Vol. 2

The young royals of Chicome face new threats while grappling with faith, identity, and their roles in the cosmic story.

Picking up where The Seventh Sun (2020) left off, this entry finds Mayana and Ahkin in the mysterious netherworld of Xibalba. Tasked by the Mother goddess, they must traverse a series of challenges—including a giant jaguar and a river of blood—as they make their way to the City of the Dead. Meanwhile, Yemania, the young healer who befriended Mayana while competing for the affections of the young emperor, has her time to shine in the overworld, where Metzi, Ahkin’s twin sister, maneuvers to hold power after her brother’s fall. Whether in the mythical underworld or the overworld, characters must grapple with their identities, including the lies they have told themselves about who they truly are, in order to best the challenges before them. There is plenty of poetic license taken in this blending of Mesoamerican mythologies, from Mayan to Mexica, but the common threads of life and death, sun and water worship blend well to make a rich tapestry on which to build a fantasy world. While aspects of the storyline might jibe more with Judeo-Christian tradition than the actual source material, the book is nevertheless sure to stoke teens’ curiosity about the world’s mythical roots. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers eager for the third installment.

A mythical, magical, and introspective adventure that celebrates Mesoamerican heritage; more, please. (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982546-10-6

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A resounding success.

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This literary DeLorean transports readers into the past, where they hope, dream, and struggle alongside beloved characters from Thomas’ The Hate U Give (2017).

The tale begins in 1998 Garden Heights, when Starr’s parents, Maverick and Lisa, are high school seniors in love and planning for the future. Thomas proves Game of Thrones–esque in her worldbuilding ability, deepening her landscape without sacrificing intimacy or heart. Garden Heights doesn’t contain dragons or sorcerers, but it’s nevertheless a kingdom under siege, and the contemporary pressures its royalty faces are graver for the realness that no magic spell can alleviate. Mav’s a prince whose family prospects are diminished due to his father’s federally mandated absence. He and his best friend, King, are “li’l homies,” lower in status and with everything to prove, especially after Mav becomes a father. In a world where masculinity and violence are inextricably linked to power, the boys’ very identities are tied to the fathers whose names they bear and with whose legacies they must contend. Mav laments, “I ain’t as hard as my pops, ain’t as street as my pops,” but measuring up to that legacy ends in jail or the grave. Worthy prequels make readers invest as though meeting characters for the first time; here they learn more about the intricate hierarchies and alliances within the King Lord gang and gain deeper insight into former ancillary characters, particularly Mav’s parents, King, and Iesha. Characters are Black.

A resounding success. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-284671-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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