Tag Archives: science fiction

Children of Jubilee by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Children of Jubilee by Margaret Peterson Haddix. December 4, 2018. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 320 p. ISBN: 9781442450097.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg. Lvl: 5.9; Lexile: 740.

Kiandra has to use her wits and tech-savvy ways to help rescue Edwy, Enu, and the others from the clutches of the Enforcers in the thrilling final novel of the Children of Exile series from New York Times bestselling author, Margaret Peterson Haddix.

Since the Enforcers raided Refuge City, Rosi, Edwy, and the others are captured and forced to work as slave labor on an alien planet, digging up strange pearls. Weak and hungry, none of them are certain they will make it out of this alive.

But Edwy’s tech-savvy sister, Kiandra, has always been the one with all the answers, and so they turn to her. But Kiandra realizes that she can’t find her way out of this one on her own, and they all might need to rely on young Cana and her alien friend if they are going to survive.

Part of Series: Children of Exile (Book #3)

Sequel to: Children of Refuge

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Violence, False imprisonment

 

Reviews

Booklist (August 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 22))
Grades 4-8. The third and final title in the Children of Exile series is all fans could hope for: exciting action, thoughtful examinations of social justice and prejudice, no excessive or gratuitous violence, a logically plotted universe, and an ultimately hopeful ending. Haddix once again changes narrators, this time focusing on Edwy’s tech-savvy 13-year-old sister, Kiandra. By switching narrators in each book, Haddix gives readers the chance to see each narrator through the eyes of others, as well as hear their own clear voice. Previously portrayed as a grumpy and self-absorbed genius computer hacker, Kiandra here discovers her connection to her siblings and other beings in general, including initially terrifying alien creatures. Kiandra, her siblings, and friends are whisked through terrifying adventures that include capture, imprisonment, and forced labor. It is Kiandra’s developing empathy that saves the group, as she dares to reach out to what she believes are enemy aliens, working together to achieve freedom. Though it won’t stand alone, this finale will be tremendously popular with series fans.

About the Author

Margaret Peterson Haddix grew up on a farm near Washington Court House, Ohio. She graduated from Miami University (of Ohio) with degrees in English/journalism, English/creative writing and history. Before her first book was published, she worked as a newspaper copy editor in Fort Wayne, Indiana; a newspaper reporter in Indianapolis; and a community college instructor and freelance writer in Danville, Illinois.

Haddix and her husband, Doug, now live in Columbus, Ohio, with their two children. Her website is www.haddixbooks.com

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Children of Jubilee on Amazon

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Outwalkers by Fiona Shaw

Outwalkers by Fiona Shaw. February 26, 2019. David Fickling Books, 416 p. ISBN: 9781338277500.  Int Lvl: 5-8.

In this tense, page-turning story of survival in near-future England, Jacob must go to all lengths to find his dog and escape to freedom with a gang of rebel children.

In a frighteningly real near future England, Jacob escapes from the Academy orphanage to reenter a world that is grimly recognizable. The Coalition can track anyone, anywhere, from a chip implanted at birth. Now Jacob must fulfill his promise to his parents, find his dog, Jet, and navigate his way out of England. Their only hope is a band of children who have found a way to survive off the grid: The Outwalkers. Their rules are strict, but necessary if they’re going to get out alive…

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Violence, References to drug use and prostitution

 

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Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2018)
In a near future, England has closed its borders, microchipped its citizens, and forced children without two parents into orphanages that are an awful lot like prisons. When 12-year-old Jake’s parents die in a car accident, he is sent to live in a Home Academy to be educated and cared for. Jake escapes to find his dog, Jet, and keep the promise he made to his parents: to flee to his grandparents’ home in Scotland. They also made him promise to keep Jet with him always. But Jake’s chip is like a beacon to the hubbers, and he has no idea how to make the long walk to the border. He meets a group of teens and children who call themselves Outwalkers who agree to take Jake with them as long as he follows the rules. Poacher, with his braided hair and black skin, and Swift, with her pale skin and hard eyes, are the leaders of the motley group. Rumors of a deadly virus and the constant threat of capture haunt their journey. Slow pacing, a vague enemy, and unoriginal plot hamper the intriguing premise. Sacrifice, loyalty, and bravery are rewarded, but Jake’s naiveté quickly becomes irritating. The book adheres to the white default, Poacher a notable exception; that he speaks in an off-putting dialect when most of the rest of the characters do not is an unfortunate detail. A dystopic near future that never manages to come to life. (Science fiction. 8-12)

School Library Journal (January 1, 2019)
Gr 5-8-Jacob Riley escapes from an Academy Home, a Dickensian orphanage in a future England ravaged by a purported virus. He plans to rescue his dog Jet and find his grandparents in Scotland. Immediately upon his escape, Jake is betrayed by former neighbors and chased by government “hubbers” who track him by means of a chip in the back of his neck. Then both Jake and Jet are rescued by a gang of “outwalkers” who excise the chip and invite Jake and his dog to join them on their way north. The gang steals and scavenges food, medicine, and clothing to survive. With skill, luck, courage, and occasional help from strangers, they brave government agents and unscrupulous adults to escape to Scotland and share information that could save England from its totalitarian nightmare. The dystopian buddy trope is well worn, yet Shaw draws such vivid circumstances and strong characters that this novel is impossible to set aside for long. The plot is detailed and exciting, and allegorical comparisons with the present day are compelling. It would be utterly inspiring but for one glaring sexist remark in which a character named Ollie “throws like a girl.” VERDICT A strong additional purchase for collections in need of futuristic, dystopian middle grade fare.-Sheri Reda,

About the Author

Fiona was born in London in 1964. Her place of birth is now a hospital broom cupboard and her first home was on a street later obliterated beneath a superstore off the Cromwell Rd. However, she passed most of her childhood as the eldest of three girls in a lovely and spacious family home near the Thames.

Living in York with her partner and two daughters, Fiona reads a great deal, cycles everywhere, grows vegetables with variable success and acquires more films than she ever gets around to watching. She is working on her fifth novel.

Her website is www.fiona-shaw.com

Around the Web

Outwalkers on Amazon

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Outwalkers on Goodreads

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Outwalkers Publisher Page

Toxic by Lydia Kang

Toxic by Lydia Kang. November 6, 2018. Entangled: Teen, 340 p. ISBN: 9781640634244.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Hana isn’t supposed to exist. She’s grown up hidden by her mother in a secret room of the bioship Cyclo until the day her mother is simple gone – along with the entire crew. Cyclo tells her she was abandoned, but she’s certain her mother wouldn’t leave her there to die. And Hana isn’t ready to die yet. She’s never really had a chance to live.

Fenn is supposed to die. He and a crew of hired mercenaries are there to monitor Cyclo as she expires, and the payment for the suicide mission will mean Fenn’s sister is able to live. But when he meets Hana, he’s not sure how to save them both.

As Cyclo grows sicker by the day, they unearth more secrets about the ship and the crew. But the more time they spend together, the more Hana and Fenn realize that falling for each other is what could ultimately kill them both.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Violence

 

About the Author

Lydia Kang is an author and internal medicine physician. She is a graduate of Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine, and completed her training at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. She lives with her family in the midwest.

Her website is lydiaykang.com

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Toxic on Amazon

Toxic on Barnes and Noble

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Toxic Publisher Page

Dry by Neal Shusterman

Dry by Neal Shusterman. October 2, 2018. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 390 p. ISBN: 9781481481960.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 790.

When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions for her family in this harrowing story of survival from New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman.

The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.

Until the taps run dry.

Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbors and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Underage smoking, Violence, Guns, Sexual exploitation of minors

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist starred (August 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 22))
Grades 9-12. Alyssa and her brother, Garrett, are normal kids in a suburb in Southern California—that is, until surrounding states shut the floodgates to the Colorado River due to prolonged drought. At first, people dismiss the news, but circumstances turn dire quickly when bottled water disappears off store shelves while the spigots remain dry. What ensues is a horrifyingly fast descent into barbarity as neighbor turns on neighbor, government intervention falls short, and society’s civil facade disintegrates. Alyssa and Garrett must travel to find new sources of water, all the while defending themselves against people crazed by thirst. While this book leans on siege-like tropes established in zombie movies, the Shustermans revivify the genre by adding an environmental twist. Using multiple points of view, the authors fully flesh out Alyssa, Garrett, and their travel companions to showcase the various ways people mentally approach calamities. The authors do not hold back—there is death, disease, manipulation, and chaos. None of it is presented simply, and none of it is sugarcoated. Lovers of horror action fiction will feel right at home with this terrifyingly realistic story of our tenuous relationship with the environment and of the resilience of the human spirit in the face of desperate situations.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 1, 2018)
When a calamitous drought overtakes southern California, a group of teens must struggle to keep their lives and their humanity in this father-son collaboration. When the Tap-Out hits and the state’s entire water supply runs dry, 16-year-old Alyssa Morrow and her little brother, Garrett, ration their Gatorade and try to be optimistic. That is, until their parents disappear, leaving them completely alone. Their neighbor Kelton McCracken was born into a survivalist family, but what use is that when it’s his family he has to survive? Kelton is determined to help Alyssa and Garrett, but with desperation comes danger, and he must lead them and two volatile new acquaintances on a perilous trek to safety and water. Occasionally interrupted by “snapshots” of perspectives outside the main plot, the narrative’s intensity steadily rises as self-interest turns deadly and friends turn on each other. No one does doom like Neal Shusterman (Thunderhead, 2018, etc.)—the breathtakingly jagged brink of apocalypse is only overshadowed by the sense that his dystopias lie just below the surface of readers’ fragile reality, a few thoughtless actions away. He and his debut novelist son have crafted a world of dark thirst and fiery desperation, which, despite the tendrils of hope that thread through the conclusion, feels alarmingly near to our future. There is an absence of racial markers, leaving characters’ identities open.< Mouths have never run so dry at the idea of thirst. (Thriller. 13-17)

About the Author

Neal Shusterman is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty award-winning books for children, teens, and adults, including The Unwind Dystology, The Skinjacker trilogy, Downsiders, and Challenger Deep, which won the National Book Award. Scythe, the first book in his newest series Arc of a Scythe, is a Michael L. Printz Honor Book. He also writes screenplays for motion pictures and television shows. The father of four children, Neal lives in California.

His website is www.storyman.com/

Teacher Resources

Dry on Common Sense Media

Around the Web

Dry on Amazon

Dry on Barnes and Noble

Dry on Goodreads

Dry Publisher Page

The Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm

The Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm. September 4, 2018. Random House Books for Young Readers, 240 p. ISBN: 9781524719814.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.7; Lexile: 500.

Ellie’s grandpa Melvin is a world-renowned scientist . . . in the body of a fourteen-year-old boy. His feet stink, and he eats everything in the refrigerator–and Ellie is so happy to have him around. Grandpa may not exactly fit in at middle school, but he certainly keeps things interesting. When he and Ellie team up for the county science fair, no one realizes just how groundbreaking their experiment will be. The formula for eternal youth may be within their reach! And when Ellie’s cat, Jonas Salk, gets sick, the stakes become even higher. But is the key to eternal life really the key to happiness? Sometimes even the most careful experiments yield unexpected–and wonderful–results.

Sequel to: The Fourteenth Goldfish

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Book Talk

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 19))
Grades 4-7. In Holm’s The Thirteenth Goldfish (2014), Elle’s grandfather Melvin, a 76-year-old widowed scientist trapped in the body of a teenage boy after discovering a substance with antiaging properties, came to live with his daughter and granddaughter. More than a year after those events, seventh-grader Elle now cajoles her “cousin” Melvin into helping her conduct a science experiment for extra credit. Their project, which involves fruit flies and a mutant salamander, seems promising as a way of helping animals to regenerate lost body parts, but it has unintended consequences as well. Meanwhile, Elle navigates the awkwardness of her first date, and her grandpa/cousin Melvin deals with unsettling changes of his own. Always entertaining and often amusing, Elle’s first-person narrative offers fresh perspectives on the strength of middle-school friendships and family ties, as well as the pain of losing a beloved pet. A STEM thread runs throughout the book, in references to famous scientists, while an appended section profiles several of them and recommends related books. Lively, funny, and thought-provoking, here’s a must-read sequel to a memorable chapter book.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2018)
Some experiments don’t work out as expected. In a satisfying sequel to The Fourteenth Goldfish (2014), seventh-grader Ellie chronicles a tentative attempt at romance, a science fair experiment with her grandfather (still in the body of a 14-year-old boy), and a new appreciation for mushrooms, a once-loathed food. She and Raj, current best friend and lunch partner, have an unsuccessful movie date. A new relationship status is not in the cards, but the unexpected consequences include the rekindling of an old friendship with Brianna—someone with shared memories—and a renewed understanding of Raj’s important role as best friend. Short, readable chapters are filled with lively dialogue and gentle humor. In her first-person, present-tense narrative, Ellie describes Raj as “goth:” “he’s got piercings and is dressed entirely in black….Even his thick hair is black…except for the long blue streak in front.” Ellie’s lack of race consciousness makes her presumably white. Her divorced parents and stepfather are shadows in this account, which focuses on her strong connection with her grandfather, who’s growing and changing as well. Most unexpected in this lightly fantastic story is a tender account of the death of a beloved pet. An ongoing STEM connection is reinforced with a backmatter “gallery” of information and suggestions for further reading about the scientists mentioned. An appealing middle school friendship story that won’t disappoint the author’s many fans. (Fiction. 9-14)

About the Author

Jennifer L. Holm is a New York Times bestselling children’s author and the recipient of three Newbery Honors for her novels Our Only May Amelia, Penny From Heaven,and Turtle in Paradise. Jennifer collaborates with her brother, Matthew Holm, on two graphic novel series—the Eisner Award-winning Babymouse series and the bestselling Squish series. She lives in California with her husband and two children.

Her website is www.jenniferholm.com/

Teacher Resources

The Third Mushroom on Common Sense Media

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The Third Mushroom on Amazon

The Third Mushroom on Barnes and Noble

The Third Mushroom on Goodreads

The Third Mushroom Publisher Page

Mech Cadet Yu by Greg Pak

Mech Cadet Yu, Vol. 1 by Greg Pak. June 5, 2018. BOOM! Studios, 128 p. ISBN: 9781684151950.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

A young boy gets the opportunity of a lifetime when he bonds with a giant sentient robot and joins the ranks of the illustrious Sky Corps Academy to protect the world from alien threats.
Every year, giant sentient robots from outer space come to Earth and bond forever with a brand new crop of cadets at Sky Corps Academy to help keep the planet safe. But this year, instead of making a connection with a cadet, one of the mechs bonds with Stanford, a young kid working with his Mom as a janitor at Sky Corps. Stanford has the opportunity of a lifetime but he’ll first have to earn the trust of his classmates if he’s to defend the planet from the monstrous Sharg.

From bestselling author Greg Pak (The Hulk, Superman) and fan favorite artist Takeshi Miyazawa (Runaways, Ms. Marvel), Mech Cadet Yu is a heartfelt underdog story set in a bright and bold sci fi world, uncovering the true makings of heroism and friendship in the face of overwhelming odds. This collection includes an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of Mech Cadet Yu, including the comic short story that inspired the series.

Part of series: Mech Cadet Yu (Book #1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

School Library Journal (September 1, 2018)
Gr 5-8-Every year giant robots from outer space come to Earth and bond with cadets at Sky Corps Academy to protect the planet. This year, one of the robots connects with Stanford Yu, a young kid who works with his mom as a janitor at Sky Corps. What follows is an underdog tale in which Stanford plays catch-up with cadet training, attempts to get closer to his classmates and his robot, and eventually faces off with the planet’s greatest threat, the Sharg. Set in the near future in Arizona, the tale strikes the perfect balance between action and drama. The battle sequences are thrilling and the characterization, writing, and dialogue strong. Asterisks note that the conversations between Stanford and his mother are translated from Cantonese. Each chapter ends on a cliff-hanger, and the volume concludes with a great battle won and a war on the horizon. Included in back matter is the original ten-page story that inspired this book, “Los Robos,” first published in Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology in 2012. Superstar duo Pak (“Planet Hulk”; “Batman/Superman”) and Miyazawa, who has illustrated “Runaways” and “Ms. Marvel,” have paired up for a compelling “chosen one” offering with broad appeal. VERDICT A must-have series starter.-Samantha Lumetta, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

About the Author

Greg Pak is an award-winning Korean American comic book writer and filmmaker currently writing “Mech Cadet Yu” for BOOM and “Totally Awesome Hulk” and “Weapon X” for Marvel Comics. Pak wrote the “Princess Who Saved Herself” children’s book and the “Code Monkey Save World” graphic novel based on the songs of Jonathan Coulton and co-wrote (with Fred Van Lente) the acclaimed “Make Comics Like the Pros” how-to book. Pak’s other work includes “Planet Hulk,” “World War Hulk,” “Storm,” “Action Comics,” and “Magneto Testament.”

His website is www.gregpak.com

Around the Web

Mech Cadet Yu on Amazon

Mech Cadet Yu on Barnes and Noble

Mech Cadet Yu on Goodreads

Mech Cadet Yu Publisher Page

Where She Fell by Kaitlin Ward

Where She Fell by Kaitlin Ward. October 30, 2018. Point, 272 p. ISBN: 9781338230079.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 690.

Watch your step.

Eliza knows the legends about the swamp near her house—that people have fallen into sinkholes, never to be seen again, maybe even falling to the center of the earth. As an aspiring geologist, she knows the last part is impossible. But when her best friends drag her onto the uneven ground anyway, Eliza knows to be worried.

And when the earth opens under her feet, there isn’t even time to say I told you so.

As she scrambles through one cave, which leads to another, and another, Eliza finds herself in an impossible world—where a small group of people survive underground, running from vicious creatures, eating giant bugs, and creating their own subterranean society. Eliza is grateful to be alive, but this isn’t home. Is she willing to risk everything to get back to the surface?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Grotesque imagery, Mild sexual themes, Violence

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (October 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 4))
Grades 8-11. When Eliza’s “friends” drag her to the swamp near her house on a dare, she tries to put on a brave face even though she knows the legends about the sinkholes. When the ground really does swallow her and drop her into a vast network of caves, she must rely on her love of geology to survive, a task that proves increasingly difficult as the caverns and their inhabitants—giant insects and glowing humanoids—begin to defy known science. But Eliza isn’t alone; there’s a small group of people who have similarly disappeared and found one another, and while their pseudosociety is at first a welcome relief, Eliza must resist the temptation to lose hope of returning to the surface world, as they have. Eliza’s literal journey through the dark tunnels mirrors her emotional journey as she reflects on social anxiety, cruel friends, and the lies she believes about herself. Though at times repetitive and lacking in subtlety, this empowering story of survival boasts a refreshingly realistic teenage voice and a lot of heart.

Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2018)
A teenager battles social anxiety disorder and giant bugs in a subterranean world. When two bad friends to whom she’s been clinging trick her into venturing into the ominously named Drowners Swamp, Eliza falls into a sinkhole that leads into a seemingly endless cave system. Being an avid fan of caves and geology, Eliza is as enthralled as she is terrified—a mix of emotions that remains unaltered as she encounters a small community of likewise trapped people surviving on a diet of outsized spiders and cave insects. Weeks later she is captured (briefly, thanks to a conveniently timed spider attack) by bioluminescent humanoids. All the while, despite having been in therapy for years, she continually denigrates herself for panic attacks and freezing up around others. Her emotional reactions take up so much of the narrative, in fact, that for all its lurid, occasionally gruesome turns, it’s hard to tell whether character or action drives the story more. In the event, Eliza is surprised to find reserves of inner strength—and a chance at personal transformation—through her ordeal. The first-person narration is punctuated with excerpts and sketches from Eliza’s journal. Except for one character with brown skin, the nonglowing cast defaults to white. Warring themes and elements give this outing a distinct feel of multiple stories yoked together by violence. Melodramatic but definitively all over the place contentwise. (Science fiction. 12-14)

About the Author

Kaitlin Ward grew up on a dairy farm in a tiny New Hampshire town, the same town where she lives now with her husband and son. She studied animal science at Cornell University and cofounded the well-known blog YA Highway. She is also the author of Where She FellGirl in a Bad Place, and Bleeding Earth.

Her website is www.kaitlin-ward.com

Around the Web

Where She Fell on Amazon

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Where She Fell on Goodreads

Where She Fell Publisher Page

Castle in the Stars: The Moon-King by Alex Alice

Castle in the Stars: The Moon-King (Book 2) by Alex Alice. September 4, 2018. First Second, 64 p. ISBN: 9781626724945.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 3.8.

What if man journeyed into space in 1869, not 1969? In The Moon-King, the second volume in this breath-taking fantasy graphic novel series, Alex Alice draws on Jules Verne and nineteenth-century romanticism to create a watercolor world of adventure and wonder to enchant adults and younger readers alike.

In anticipation of their maiden voyage, Seraphin and the Knights of Aether had prepared for everything―except treason. The villainous chamberlain wants to overthrow King Ludwig and claim the electro-aetheric technology for Prussia. The only escape for the king and his companions lies in the frosty skies above Bavaria.

The aethership’s first flight is asuccess, but their respite is short-lived. As long as the chamberlain is free to spread his lies, these travelers will find no safe harbor. To save the king’s throne, they must push the ship even farther―out of the sky . . . and into the stars!

Sequel to: The Space Race of 1869

Part of Series: Castle in the Stars (Book #2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Underage smoking, Violence

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (July 1, 2018)
Alice knows a lot about the moon, and most of it isn’t true. An entire page of this graphic novel, a French import, is devoted to popular historical theories about the moon, and because the story is set in 1870, all of them are wonderfully archaic. “Everyone knows that giant vultures…live on the moon!” one character explains. Another person mentions a scientist who believed the moon was shaped like an egg. These ideas (inspired by Lucian of Samosata and Eratosthenes, among others) are so charming that when the characters actually land on the moon, a few pages later, it’s a bit of a letdown. The landscape is mostly pale, unvarying mountains and caverns, and even though they’re painted beautifully, the story features page after page of hiking. Occasionally, though, the images are just as gorgeous as in the first volume of the series. When the aeronauts come across an orrery (an enormous model of the planets), it’s breathtaking, and the steampunk designs—like a spacesuit with a bird of prey on its breastplate—are always inventive. The prose is less masterful, at least in this translation, with sentences along the lines of, “An ingenious Regnault & Reiset system absorbed harmful gases and replenished the oxygen.” The skin tones of the cast are also mostly pale and unvarying. Readers who enjoyed the first book may remain invested in the fates of the characters. Other people might prefer to look up archaic stories about the moon. (Graphic steampunk. 10-16)

About the Author

Alex Alice is a French graphic novelist, working in France and sometimes the U.S. His works have been translated into more than fifteen languages.

Born in 1974, he grew up in the south of France and had the chance to travel around Europe, where he developed a lifelong passion for the ruins and castles of the medieval and romantic ages. This experience influenced his art, from the grim setting of his esoteric thriller The Third Testament (co-written with Xavier Dorison and published by Titan Comics) to the primeval, mythic world found in Siegfried, an operatic re-telling of the northern saga of the great dragon slayer (published by Boom Entertainment). In Castle in the Stars, he draws on Jules Verne and nineteenth-century romanticism to create a watercolor world of adventure and wonder to enchant adults and younger readers alike.

His website is www.alexalice.com

Around the Web

The Moon-King on Amazon

The Moon-King on Barnes & Noble

The Moon-King on Goodreads

The Moon-King Publisher Page

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden. October 2, 2018. First Second, 544 p. ISBN: 9781250178145.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

An epic graphic novel about a girl who travels to the ends of the universe to find a long lost love, from acclaimed author Tillie Walden.

Throughout the deepest reaches of space, a crew rebuilds beautiful and broken-down structures, painstakingly putting the past together. As Mia, the newest member, gets to know her team, the story flashes back to her pivotal year in boarding school, where she fell in love with a mysterious new student. When Mia grows close to her new friends, she reveals her true purpose for joining their ship—to track down her long-lost love.

An inventive world, a breathtaking love story, and stunning art come together in this new work by award-winning artist Tillie Walden.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Violence, Homophobia

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 2))
Grades 8-12. When Mia joins a crew tasked with restoring abandoned space ruins, it’s clear she’s running from something. But between the hard work and the spirited characters of her shipmates, there’s hardly time to dwell on it. Interspersed flashbacks of strong-willed Mia at her all-girls boarding school hint at her troubles—a burgeoning romance with her classmate Grace, sneaking into the gym to (disastrously) try flying a small ship—but it’s not until she and her crewmates get a job restoring an ancient, strange temple that the pieces start coming together. Walden’s (Spinning, 2017) swirling, atmospheric artwork is phenomenal: she plays with darkness and shadows in captivating ways perfectly in keeping with the light-poor space atmosphere, and swathes of luminous, saturated color only emphasize that darkness. There aren’t many planets in the inky black, star-speckled backgrounds, but architectural structures float freely, and they’re set together at weird, surprising angles, unconstrained by gravity. There’s an organic, familiar quality to the spaces, with trees, rock formations, window seats, cathedral ceilings, and messy rooms, but the starry expanses outside every window are a stark reminder of their interstellar location. The sparking interplay between familiar and foreign is utterly mesmerizing, and the story carries that through as well: the sf components are inventive and compellingly strange, but the romance between Mia and Grace, not to mention the warm, teasing affection among Mia’s crewmates, grounds the story in a heartening, recognizable place. A remarkable, stunning comic.

Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2018)
In this graphic novel/space adventure, a young woman discovers her place in a vast universe. After graduating from an all-girls boarding school, Mia, a light-skinned, black-haired girl, joins a reconstruction crew traveling through space to restore crumbling buildings with ancient and forgotten histories. She carries with her memories of Grace, the girl she fell in love with and lost during her freshman year of school. As Mia develops close bonds with her teammates, she learns they each have mysterious and complicated pasts of their own. Despite their differences, the strength of their love holds them together on a dangerous journey to the farthest reaches of space. A deep color palette of blues and purples with bursts of warm shades captures the setting. Walden’s (Spinning, 2017, etc.) diverse cast of queer characters includes Char, a black woman who co-captains the reconstruction crew with her white wife, Alma; Mia’s past love Grace (a black woman); and Elliot, a white nonbinary person who communicates nonverbally. While Mia’s journey is central, every character experiences a moment of growth over the course of the narrative. The timeline alternates between Mia’s memories depicting the progression of her relationship with Grace and the present. At times both gently romantic and heartbreaking, the story ultimately celebrates love and the importance of chosen family. An affirming love story full of intriguing characters and a suspenseful plot. (Science-fiction graphic novel. 13-adult)

About the Author

Tillie Walden is a cartoonist and illustrator from Austin, Texas. Born in 1996, she is a recent graduate from the Center for Cartoon Studies, a comics school in Vermont. Over the course of her time at CCS she published three books with the London based Avery Hill Publishing. She has already received an Eisner Award nomination and two Ignatz Awards for her early works. When she is not drawing comics, Tillie can be found walking and listening to audiobooks or asleep with a cat. She also enjoys studying architecture and tries to incorporate that passion into her comics.

Her website is tilliewalden.com

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Wildcard by Marie Lu

Wildcard by Marie Lu. September 18, 2018. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 341 p. ISBN: 9780399547997.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 810.

All bets are off. This time the gamble is survival.

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems—and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

Sequel to: Warcross

Part of Series: Warcross (Book 2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Underage drinking, Violence

Video Reviews

Reviews

Booklist (August 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 22))
Grades 9-12. Bounty hunter turned reality game superstar Emika Chen thought she had her hands full when she became an internationally known competitor in the virtual-reality-game Warcross​ championships. But that was before she learned the truth about her one-time love Hideo Tanaka, a young billionaire and creator of Warcross​—and the inventor of an algorithm that puts everyone who uses his high-tech lenses under his control. Sure, Hideo’s not trying to rule the world or anything—­this all started as a war on crime, after his little brother went missing years ago—but Emi can’t agree with his methods. But she’s got even bigger plans: there’s a bounty on her head now, and if she’s going to escape the assassins who are after her, she has to turn to Zero, the infamous, if not exactly trustworthy, hacker and his team. But they’ve got motives of their own, and Emi might get so tangled in a web of subterfuge that she can’t break free. There’s plenty of high-stakes double-crossing here, and this finale moves along at a breakneck clip. Series fans will be only too happy to zoom along for the ride.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 1, 2018)
The fate of free will hangs in the balance as Emika must choose a side in this sequel to Warcross (2017). In the days after Japanese Hideo triggered the algorithm in the NeuroLink enabling him to control 98 percent of its users (all except those using the beta lenses), people are turning themselves in for crimes en masse, and some child molesters and murderers are even killing themselves. Those still using beta lenses—like Emika Chen, who is implied Asian-American, and her multicultural teammates—have a little more than a week until the beta lenses will download a patch and convert to the algorithm. The tight timeline has Emika dwelling on the team-up offer from Zero—which her friends are against as he’s a terrorist—until her hand is forced by assassination attempts and Zero brings her into the secretive Blackcoat organization and into the know about his identity. Emika struggles with the Blackcoats’ extreme ends-justify-the-means stance but goes along with their plan while teasing out the truth of what happened to Hideo’s brother, Sasuke, all those years ago. The plotting is exquisite, with tiny details connecting back to the first book, big twists that never feel forced, and emotional power drawn from character growth. The flawlessly rendered characters anchor the sophisticated themes and world-altering stakes right up to the end game. A fast, intense, phenomenal read. (Science fiction. 13-adult)

About the Author

Marie Lu is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Legend, Prodigy, and Champion, as well as The Young Elites. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry, working for Disney Interactive Studios as a Flash artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing Assassin’s Creed, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California (see above: traffic), with one husband, one Chihuahua mix, and two Pembroke Welsh corgis.

Her website is www.marielu.org.

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Wildcard on Amazon

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Wildcard Publisher Page