Tag Archives: science fiction

Masterminds: Payback by Gordon Korman

Masterminds: Payback by Gordon Korman. March 7, 2017. Balzer + Bray, 320 p. ISBN: 9780062300058.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.0.

The thrilling finale to the New York Times-bestselling Masterminds series from middle grade star author Gordon Korman. Perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and James Patterson.

After a serious betrayal from one of their former friends, the clones of Project Osiris are on the run again. Now separated into pairs, Eli and Tori and Amber and Malik are fighting to survive in the real world.

Amber and Malik track down the one person they think can help them prove the existence of Project Osiris, notorious mob boss Gus Alabaster, also known as Malik’s DNA donor. But as Malik gets pulled into the criminal world—tantalized by hints of a real family—his actions put him and Amber into greater danger.

Part of Series: Masterminds (Book 3)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (February 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 12))
Grades 4-7. Korman’s action-packed caper series comes to a satisfying close in this final installment. After facing a surprising double-cross at the end of the last book (Criminal Destiny, 2016), Eli and Tori get separated from Amber and Malik, but that doesn’t stop each pair of kids from continuing to follow clues to track down the criminals from which they were cloned. They have good intentions, but they can’t help but use their inborn skills, and soon they all begin to feel lured in by the ease of breaking the law. But as the cinematic plot, laced with red herrings, daring escapes, and mostly harmless minor crimes, trundles on to a tropical resort, where the foursome confronts the mad scientist responsible for their existence, the kids realize that their loyalty to one another and the skills they’ve learned from each other are enough to keep them on the straight and narrow (for now, at least). With a masterful balance of humor, thought-provoking questions, and adventure, this finale offers just the right closing note to an entertaining trilogy.

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2016)
In this trilogy closer, the four escaped clones from Project Osiris are still on the run, trying to avoid capture, discover the truth behind their criminal origins, and rescue the rest of the clones from the clutches of the evil Dr. Hammerstrom.Amber and Malik travel to Chicago to question Malik’s DNA donor, crime boss Gus Alabaster. Posing as his long-lost son, Malik is able to infiltrate his inner circle, but other than the confirmation that he is Gus’ clone, the trip is futile. Meanwhile, Tori and Eli go to California to visit serial killer Bartholomew Glen. There, they find that the Osiris conspiracy is bigger than they imagined. The four use a combination of their innate criminal abilities and their learned kindness to survive. Whether it is stealing a car, selling stolen Girl Scout cookies, or hacking computers, they will do whatever it takes to find the truth. This final installment in the trilogy that began with Masterminds (2015) is packed with surprising twists, high-speed chases, and plenty of near misses. Though the novel sidesteps racial differences, the question of nature versus nurture adds a thoughtful layer to a book that relies heavily on some convenient coincidences and improbable scenarios. (The dimly lit cover depicts the kids as either white or ambiguous.) Fans of the series will not be disappointed. Action-packed, high-speed fun. (Adventure. 8-12)

About the Author

Korman wrote his first book, “This Can’t be Happening at Macdonald Hall”, when he was 12 years old, for a coach who suddenly found himself teaching 7th grade English. He later took that episode and created a book out of it, as well, in “The Sixth Grade Nickname Game”, wherein Mr. Huge was based on that 7th grade teacher.

Korman moved to New York City, where he studied film and film writing. While in New York, he met his future wife; live in Long Island with their three children.

He has published more than 50 books.

His website is gordonkorman.com.

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One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale

One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale. March 14, 2017. Amulet Books, 127 p. ISBN: 9781419721281.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 3.4.

The aliens have arrived. And they’re hungry for electricity. In the Earth of the future, humans are on the run from an alien force—giant blobs who suck up electrical devices wherever they can find them. Strata and her family are part of a caravan of digital rescuers, hoping to keep the memory of civilization alive by saving electronics wherever they can. Many humans have reverted to a pre-electrical age, and others have taken advantage of the invasion to become dangerous bandits and outlaws. When Strata and her brother are separated from the caravan, they must rely on a particularly beautiful and rare robot pony to escape the outlaws and aliens—and defeat the invaders once and for all.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: War; Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 9))
Grades 3-6. On a ravaged future earth, technology-hungry aliens called pipers scour the planet for salvage, leaving behind a landscape riddled with spherical gouges, as if earth was suddenly Swiss cheese. One cadre of humans is trying to preserve the earth’s culture by scavenging for any remaining technology, but it’s dangerous work, especially when three kids—Strata, Auger, and Inby—stumble on a hidden cavern packed with untouched robots, including a beautiful mechanical horse. Strata’s determined to bring the horse back to their caravan, but their discovery catches the attention of a horde of pipers, and their journey home gets a lot more complicated. Hale imbues his latest with pathos, action, and perfectly timed moments of comedy, but it’s the imaginative landscape, spot-on visual pacing, and confident line work that make this adventure tale really zing. The pipers are a particular treat—they’re elaborate, insectoid creatures with menacing, globular features and pendulous tendrils, ready to grab and annihilate anything they touch. Though it’s over a bit too neatly, the suspenseful chase plot and lively characters will entrance plenty of readers.

Kirkus Reviews (February 15, 2017)
In the future, the extraterrestrial Pipers devour electrical devices while threatening human lives and forcing them to regress to pre-electrical technology. Strata, her brother, Auger, and his wisecracking friend, Inby, find a sleeping robot pony named Kleidi buried in sand one day while exploring some ruins. Waking Kleidi, however, triggers activity and attracts numerous unwanted encounters with the Pipers, huge and terrifying tentacled beings; fleeing, they become lost. While on the run, the group meets a young woman, Pick, from a different tribe, which is hiding from “ferals,” or bandits and outlaws. Together they go on a quest in search of the Caravan—the trio’s mobile home, which houses the remaining digital archives: robots, literature, music, movies, along with all memory of previous human civilizations. Serving as a leitmotif throughout the story is the tale of the “Pied Piper of Hamelin”: the children, in this future, are represented by technology; as Pick explains, “they are stealing our future.” Hale generously offers texture and intricate details in his panels—often zooming in and out and back in—while offering balance with illustrations rendered in black, white, and gray with yellow accents. In this future, humans are divided into clans but do not maintain present-day racial distinctions; all the main characters appear to be children of color. Hale blends adventure, aliens, an apocalyptic future, and folklore into an easy-to-read stand-alone. (Graphic science fiction. 8-12)

About the Author

Nathan Hale is the New York Times best-selling author/illustrator of the Hazardous Tales series, as well as many picture books including Yellowbelly and Plum go to School, the Twelve Bots of Christmas and The Devil You Know.

He is the illustrator of the Eisner-nominated graphic novel Rapunzel’s Revenge and its sequel, Calamity Jack. He also illustrated Frankenstein: A Monstrous Parody, The Dinosaurs’ Night Before Christmas, Animal House and many others.

His website is www.spacestationnathan.blogspot.com.

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At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson. February 7, 2017. Simon Pulse, 496 p. ISBN: 9781481449663.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 790.

From the author of We Are the Ants and The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley comes the heartbreaking story of a boy who believes the universe is slowly shrinking as things he remembers are being erased from others’ memories.

Tommy and Ozzie have been best friends since the second grade, and boyfriends since eighth. They spent countless days dreaming of escaping their small town—and then Tommy vanished.

More accurately, he ceased to exist, erased from the minds and memories of everyone who knew him. Everyone except Ozzie.

Ozzie doesn’t know how to navigate life without Tommy, and soon he suspects that something else is going on: that the universe is shrinking.

When Ozzie is paired up with new student Calvin on a physics project, he begins to wonder if Calvin could somehow be involved. But the more time they spend together, the harder it is for him to deny the feelings developing between them, even if he still loves Tommy.

But Ozzie knows there isn’t much time left to find Tommy—that once the door closes, it can’t be opened again. And he’s determined to keep it open as long as it takes to get his boyfriend back.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Drugs; Alcohol; Drugging and sexual abuse of a minor.

 

 

Reviews

Booklist (November 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 6))
Grades 9-12. The universe isn’t expanding anymore—it’s actually shrinking, and Florida high-school senior Ozzie is the only one who remembers it differently. He’s also the only one who remembers Tommy, his best friend since childhood and boyfriend since the eighth grade. Tommy has vanished, both from Ozzie’s life and from the memories of everyone around him. As graduation approaches and Ozzie’s world becomes literally smaller, he struggles to find Tommy with increasing desperation, even as he grows closer to Calvin, the quiet, elusive boy in his physics class. Occasionally nihilistic but never completely hopeless, the narrative supports multiple topics with grace: gender and sexual identities, mental illness, and the inevitable grief that comes with learning to move from one phase of life to another. A few familiar faces from Hutchinson’s We Are the Ants (2016) make cameo appearances, and fans will recognize similar motifs—Hutchinson writes variations on a theme, to be sure, but it’s a rich theme. Wrenching and thought-provoking, Hutchinson has penned another winner.

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 15, 2016)
If your boyfriend is erased from history, is it because the universe is shrinking, or have you totally lost your mind?During senior year in high school, college applications and prom dates are the stresses du jour. But Oswald “Ozzie” Pinkerton’s also include trying to convince anyone (family, friends, an alphabetical string of therapists) that his boyfriend, Tommy, ever existed. They theorize that Ozzie is obsessive and slightly touched; he theorizes that the universe is shrinking and that Tommy was a casualty of restricting astral girth. As Ozzie tracks the solar system’s diminishing waist size, his still-existing world unravels and conversely weaves new chapters. One of these chapters is Calvin, a once-golden, now-reclusive student. When the two are paired for a physics project, Ozzie weighs his loyalty to absent Tommy against his growing attraction to present Calvin. A varied cast of characters populates the pages: there’s a genderqueer girl who prefers masculine pronouns, a black boyfriend, an Asian/Jewish (by way of adoption) best friend, and a bevy of melting-pot surnames. Ozzie is a white male, and he is respectfully called out on underestimating the privilege he enjoys for being just that. Though Ozzie primarily narrates in the past tense (with sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll drifting through the background), intermittent flashbacks in the present tense unveil the tender, intimate history of Ozzie’s relationship with Tommy. An earthy, existential coming-of-age gem. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

About the Author

Shaun is a major geek and all about nerdy shenanigans. He is the author of We Are the Ants, The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley, The Deathday Letter, fml, and the editor of the anthology Violent Ends.

He currently lives in South Florida with his dog and watches way too much Doctor Who.

His website is www.shaundavidhutchinson.com.

Teacher Resources

At the Edge of the Universe Reading Group Guide

Around the Web

At the Edge of the Universe on Amazon

At the Edge of the Universe on Goodreads

At the Edge of the Universe on JLG

At the Edge of the Universe Publisher Page

Secrets & Sequences by Gene Luen Yang

Secrets & Sequences by Gene Luen Yang. March 7, 2017. First Second, 112 p. ISBN: 978162676185.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 3.0.

Stately Academy is no ordinary school: it was once home to an elite institute where teachers, students, and robots worked together to unravel the mysteries of coding. Hopper, Eni, and Josh won’t rest until they’ve learned the whole story, but they aren’t the only ones interested in the school’s past. Principal Dean is hot on their trail, demanding that the coders turn over their most powerful robot. Dean may be a creep, but he’s nothing compared to the guy who’s really in charge: a green-skinned coding genius named Professor One-Zero.

Sequel to: Paths & Portals

Part of Series: Secret Coders (Book 3)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Coding Lessons

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (January 1, 2017)
The series’ overarching plot ramps up in the third entry of the Secret Coders series.With Professor Bee still stuck at the mercy of the villainous Principal Dean and his rugby goons in the cliffhanger that ended Paths and Portals (2016), friends Hopper (mixed race, Chinese/white), Eni (black), and Josh (light-skinned but racially ambiguous) must first program their way out of danger. After that situation is resolved, Hopper receives a warning that the principal is quite evil and that Hopper’s mom might be in danger—but their mother-daughter communication still falters. Bee gives more coding lessons and also teaches the kids about his first students, among whom were Hopper’s missing father and Pascal, a brilliant pupil who ended up building an army of robots for world domination. Although Bee, Hopper’s father, and their team stopped him, Bee now worries that Pascal is back. Soon enough, Dean has Hopper’s mom at gunpoint to force the coders to find a flying turtle that takes them right into the lair of a villain far worse than Dean. The coding principles focused on—parameters and Ifelse (if else) statements—are well-explained and -illustrated, which is necessary for readers to follow along with the characters’ actions. The cliffhanger puzzle is an especially snazzy way to end this outing. Nearly every element (especially the bad guys) escalates wildly and successfully in this nifty comp-sci romp. (Graphic science fiction. 8-14)

About the Author

Gene Luen Yang is currently serving as the Library of Congress’ fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. His 2006 book American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award and the first to win the American Library Association’s Michael L. Printz Award. It also won an Eisner Award. His 2013 two-volume graphic novel Boxers & Saints was nominated for the National Book Award and won the LA Times Book Prize. Gene currently writes Dark Horse Comics’ Avatar: The Last Airbender series and DC Comics’ Superman. Secret Coders, his middle-grade graphic novel series with cartoonist Mike Holmes, teaches kids the basics of computer programming.

He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his lovely wife and children and teaches at a Roman Catholic high school.

His website is http://geneyang.com.

Teacher Resources

Secret Coders Downloadable Activities

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Secrets & Sequences on Amazon

Secrets & Sequences on Goodreads

Secrets & Sequences on JLG

Secrets & Sequences Publisher Page

Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray. April 4, 2017. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 512 p. ISBN: 9780316394031.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

She’s a soldier.

Noemi Vidal is seventeen years old and sworn to protect her planet, Genesis. She’s willing to risk anything–including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.

He’s a machine.

Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel has advanced programming that’s begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; War; Violence; Strong sexual themes; Alcohol; Body humor

 

Reviews

Booklist (February 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 11))
Grades 7-11. A trial run for a major offensive against Earth turns into a rescue operation for Genesis soldier Noemi Vidal, as she tries to save a friend from a surprise attack by Earth mechs (mechanized warriors) and ends up boarding a disabled Earth warship from an earlier battle. The ship isn’t empty; for the last 30 years, a one-of-a-kind mech, Abel, has waited for someone to release him from his tin prison. Noemi needs for Abel to complete a deadly mission that will give her planet more time to prepare for the coming war, but his sacrifice becomes less desirable as they get to know each other. This first-rate STEM-packed adventure explores what it means to be human and whether people are truly their brothers’ keepers. The point of view alternates between the two main characters, but Gray too often chooses to tell rather than let the narrative unfold through dialogue and action. There are subtleties to be found, though, in the deft handling of the developing relationship between Noemi and Abel.) | Twitter

Kirkus Reviews starred (February 1, 2017)
A teen soldier teams up with an enemy android to end an interplanetary war. During a practice for her Masada Run, Genesis soldier Noemi (a human of Latin American and Polynesian ancestry) discovers an Earth ship abandoned during the last war. The reference is purposeful: it’s a suicide mission to damage the Gate between Earth and Genesis in order to stave off Earth’s offensive. Abel (a mech with artificial intelligence and self-awareness, modeled after his white creator) has waited alone on that ship for 30 years. Abel’s far more advanced than his task-oriented peers, with a (delightfully passive-aggressive) personality of his own, and he wants to return to his “father” but is programmed to recognize Noemi as his new superior and obey her. Using Abel, Noemi realizes she can destroy the gate and save her fellow soldiers’ lives, so she tears across the universe on the desperate, long-shot mission. Abel discovers the changes the past 30 years have wrought: Earth’s environmental degradation makes new homes like pristine Genesis necessary, but Earth leadership can’t be trusted not to destroy them too. Meanwhile, Noemi also learns the fuller picture and connects with people from different walks—including Abel, who she begins to suspect is more than a machine. Nuanced philosophical discussions of religion, terrorism, and morality advise and direct the high-stakes action, informing the beautiful, realistic ending. Intelligent and thoughtful, a highly relevant far-off speculative adventure. (Science-fiction. 12 & up)

About the Author

Claudia Gray is not my real name. I didn’t choose a pseudonym because my real name is unpleasant (it isn’t), because I’d always dreamed of calling myself this (I haven’t) or even because I’m hiding from the remnants of that international diamond-smuggling cartel I smashed in 2003 (Interpol has taken care of them). In short, I took a pseudonym for no real reason whatsoever. Sometimes this is actually the best reason to do things.

I live in New Orleans. So far, in life, I’ve been a disc jockey, a lawyer, a journalist and an extremely bad waitress, just to name a few. I especially like to spend time traveling, hiking, reading and listening to music. More than anything else, I enjoy writing.

Her website is www.claudiagray.com.

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Exo by Fonda Lee

Exo by Fonda Lee. January 13, 2017. Scholastic, 384 p. ISBN: 9780545933438.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 810.

It’s been a century of peace since Earth became a colony of an alien race with far reaches into the galaxy. Some die-hard extremists still oppose their rule on Earth, but Donovan Reyes isn’t one of them. His dad holds the prestigious position of Prime Liaison in the collaborationist government, and Donovan’s high social standing along with his exocel (a remarkable alien technology fused to his body) guarantee him a bright future in the security forces. That is, until a routine patrol goes awry and Donovan’s abducted by the human revolutionary group Sapience.

When Sapience realizes who Donovan’s father is, they think they’ve found the ultimate bargaining chip. But the Prime Liaison doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, not even for his own son. Left in the hands of terrorists who have more uses for him dead than alive, the fate of Earth rests on Donovan’s survival. Because if Sapience kills him, it could spark another intergalactic war. And Earth didn’t win the last one…

Potentially Sensitive Areas: War; Violence; Mild sexual themes; Underage drinking

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2016)
Sometime in the future, a young soldier working for the extraterrestrials who have conquered Earth fights a rebel group but learns that he has family ties to someone he sees as a criminal.Seventeen-year-old Donovan Reyes wants only to be a good soldier, even though he’s the only child of the Prime Liaison, West America’s ambassador to the zhree, who conquered Earth a century earlier. When he was a child, his dad had him Hardened, transforming his human skin into flexible armor plating called an exocel, rather like the zhree. Donovan gets along well with the fairly benign zhree, as does much of humanity, but a band of rebels remains determined to expel them from the planet. Captured by the rebels, Donovan soon learns that one of their leaders has a connection to him. He also meets the pretty rebel Anya and finds himself far too attracted to her. While in captivity Donovan begins to see rebels as individuals rather than criminals, while some of them struggle with the notion that despite his armor plating, Donovan is still human. When a new threat appears readers are left to wonder whether humanity’s life with the zhree might be a good development. Lee keeps her science fiction credible, effectively building this future world and establishing its rules efficiently. Racial differences are mentioned, though Donovan and Anya both appear to be light-skinned. Believable, suspenseful science fiction. (Science fiction. 12-18)

Publishers Weekly Annex (December 12, 2016)
Seventeen-year-old Donovan Reyes has it all: his father is the “Prime Liaison” between humanity and the alien zhree, who conquered Earth a century ago, and Donovan himself, a technologically enhanced “exo,” is part of SecPac, enforcing the law and dealing with human insurrection. When he’s captured by the resistance group Sapience, he’s thrust into unfamiliar and dangerous territory, which grows even more complicated after he discovers a personal connection to one of its members. Still loyal to the zhree and to his father, Donovan is conflicted; determined to preserve peace and lives on both sides, he disobeys orders, questions procedure, and eventually stumbles on terrible hidden truths. Lee (Shadowboxer) constructs a plausibly alien future society and uses the premise to offer thought-provoking questions on occupation and colonization, placing her hero in a murky state of morality as she explores divided loyalties and conflicting obligations. Things perhaps come a bit too easily to Donovan at times, but the story’s open-ended conclusion begs for further development and exploration. Ages 12-up.

About the Author

Fonda Lee writes science fiction and fantasy for teens and adults. Her debut novel Zeroboxer was an Andre Norton Award nominee, Junior Library Guild Selection,, and an ALA Top 10 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.  Fonda is a former corporate strategist, avid martial artist, and an enthusiast of food, film, and books. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Her website is www.fondalee.com.

 

Around the Web

Exo on Amazon

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Exo on JLG

Exo Publisher Page

Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza. February7, 2017. Razorbill, 320 p. ISBN: 9781101999103.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

CROWN PRINCESS RHIANNON TA’AN WANTS VENGEANCE.

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, RHEE has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

ALYOSHA is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

In this exhilarating debut for fans of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy, RHODA BELLEZA crafts a powerful saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: War; Violence; Mild sexual themes

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (February 15, 2017 (Online))
Grades 9-12. “She was alone, friendless, and supposedly dead. It was her sixteenth birthday.” Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an—Rhee—the last surviving member of the galaxy’s ruling family, faces this sobering reality after she survives an attempt on her life by one of her closest confidantes and jettisons into space in pursuit of the man she believes orchestrated the fatal attack on her family. Alternating chapters detail the saga of Alyosha, roguish star of the DroneVision show The Revolutionary Boys (think YouTube channel meets reality TV), who gets framed for Princess Rhee’s presumed murder. Belleza’s ambitious debut lays the groundwork for what is sure to be a rich sci-fi series full of political plots and worlds on the brink of war, futuristic biotechnologies reminiscent of M. T. Anderson’s Feed (2002), and startling plot twists. Fortunately, Rhee and Aly both stand out as resilient, resourceful protagonists who are, if not always innocent, at least confident in what they believe.

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 15, 2016)
A galaxy perches on the edge of war when word goes out that the crown princess has been assassinated. Except she hasn’t been. An assassination attempt from a shocking source has Rhee running from planet to planet, disguised, untangling threads of deception and betrayal. She’s bent on revenge on the man who assassinated her family years ago, which left her the last Ta’an of 12 generations of warrior emperors—but he may not be who she thought. In another thread, in breathlessly alternating chapters, Aly finds himself tossed from his life in the military (and reluctant star of a reality program) into a desperate quest to absolve himself from the charge of assassinating Rhee. It’s no coincidence that Aly, the accused, is black and belongs to an oppressed refugee group; Rhee has the tan skin of the ruling group. Never faltering in her fast pace and nuanced characterization, Belleza weaves together many complex layers: the recent Great War (massacres, famines, clouds of chemical gas that scorched whole cities to dust); racism, roundups, and imprisonments; the roles of media and propaganda; revenge, guilt, grief, and obligation; and disturbing moral questions about privacy and technology, especially regarding the cubes implanted in most people’s minds to orient them geographically and store their thoughts and memories. This is a multiplanet, multiculture, multitech world and a timely tale. An exceptionally satisfying series opener. (Science fiction. 14-18)

About the Author

Rhoda Belleza was raised in Los Angeles, where she grew up writing XFiles fanfiction and stuffing her face with avocados. When she’s not writing, Rhoda obsesses over nail art tutorials, watches kung-fu movies, and sews together crooked things that pass for clothes. She’s a children’s editor at a publishing house and writes from a sunny Brooklyn apartment stuffed far too many bikes and far too many shoes. Empress of a Thousand Skies is her debut novel.

Around the Web

Empress of a Thousand Skies on Amazon

Empress of a Thousand Skies on Goodreads

Empress of a Thousand Skies on JLG

Empress of a Thousand Skies Publisher Page

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. October 18, 2016. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 672p. ISBN: 9780553499162.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 800.

Brace yourself for GEMINA—the highly anticipated sequel to the book critics called “out-of-this-world awesome”—featuring journal illustrations by bestselling author Marie Lu!

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.
The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.
But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

Sequel to: Illuminae

Part of Series: The Illuminae Files

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Violence; Mild sexual themes; Drugs

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist (July 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 21))
Grades 8-12. Rich daddy’s girl Hanna, House of Knives gang member Nik, and his computer-savvy younger cousin Ella get caught in the battle onboard jump station Heimdall, where BeiTech Industries is eradicating any signs of its earlier deadly attack on a small mining outpost. This “clean-up” includes destroying the Heimdall, its residents, and the outpost survivors traveling on inbound spaceship Hypatia. Hanna, Nik, and Ella may be the only ones able to prevent BeiTech from succeeding. The Illuminae (2015) sequel is actually the documents from BeiTech’s trial, including e-mails, surveillance footage, transcripts, chat logs, schematics, and diary entries. The authors are truly adept at creating darlings and demons using nontraditional narrative forms, and the parallel conversations late in the book are seriously clever. Kaufman and Kristoff are even better at pacing, keeping track of characters like air-traffic controllers, and using competing countdown clocks to indicate impending doom. The gory addition of the jawless, parasitic lanima pushes the book to the border of sci-fi and horror. A riveting addition to Kaufman and Kristoff’s space saga. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This new installment in the blockbuster Illuminae trilogy is getting serious publisher promotion, including a national author tour.

School Library Journal (September 1, 2016)
Gr 6 Up-While the first book in the series, Illuminae, followed the account of the Hypatia, the only surviving spacecraft of the Kerenza colony attack, as it hurtled toward the Heimdall space station for sanctuary, this sequel describes the experience of Hanna, who lives aboard the Heimdall. She is the daughter of the space station commander, and while this remote post is fairly quiet, her world unravels when agents attempt to seize control of the space station in order to destroy it and ensure no witnesses survive. Hanna finds an unlikely ally in Nik, an unsavory gang member who deals “dust” in the space station, as they attempt to defend the Heimdall, save the Hypatia, contain vicious alien creatures, and fix a rip in the space-time continuum. The narrative is presented in a dossier-style compilation of emails, journal entries, diagrams, and transcripts. These documents serve to convey the deeply satisfying story line in a creative and engaging way, making this series an exceptional recommendation for discerning and reluctant readers. The characters are intensely believable, and it will be easy for teens to share in Hanna’s losses, betrayals, and accomplishments. Kaufman and Kristoff have woven such an intricate and compulsively readable tale that fans can revisit the text and make new discoveries each time. VERDICT An excellent choice for science fiction lovers as well as those new to the genre; a must-have for library collections.-Paige Rowse, Needham High School Library, MA

About the Authors

Amie Kaufman is the New York Times and internationally bestselling co-author of The Illuminae Files (Illuminae, Gemina) and the Starbound Trilogy (These Broken Stars, This Shattered World, Their Fractured Light.) Her award-winning books are published in almost 30 countries, and she is based in Melbourne, Australia, where she lives with her husband, their rescue dog, and an extremely large personal library.

Her website is http://www.amiekaufman.com.

 

Jay Kristoff is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Lotus War, The Illuminae Files and The Nevernight Chronicle. He is the winner of two Aurealis Awards, an ABIA, nominee for the David Gemmell Morningstar and Legend awards, named multiple times in the Kirkus and Amazon Best Teen Books list and published in over twenty-five countries, most of which he has never visited. He is as surprised about all of this as you are.

He is 6’7 and has approximately 13030 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world’s laziest Jack Russell.

He does not believe in happy endings.

His website is http://www.jaykristoff.com.

Around the Web

Gemina on Amazon

Gemina on JLG

Gemina on Goodreads

 

The Delphi Effect by Rysa Walker

The Delphi Effect by Rysa Walker. October 11, 2016. Skyscape, 380 p. ISBN: 9781503938823.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

It’s never wise to talk to strangers…and that goes double when they’re dead. Unfortunately, seventeen-year-old Anna Morgan has no choice. Resting on a park bench, touching the turnstile at the Metro station—she never knows where she’ll encounter a ghost. These mental hitchhikers are the reason Anna has been tossed from one foster home and psychiatric institution to the next for most of her life.

When a chance touch leads her to pick up the insistent spirit of a girl who was brutally murdered, Anna is pulled headlong into a deadly conspiracy that extends to the highest levels of government. Facing the forces behind her new hitcher’s death will challenge the barriers, both good and bad, that Anna has erected over the years and shed light on her power’s origins. And when the covert organization seeking to recruit her crosses the line by kidnapping her friend, it will discover just how far Anna is willing to go to bring it down.

Part of Series: The Delphi Trilogy

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns; Strong language; Violence; Sexual assault; Human trafficking

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Publishers Weekly Annex (October 10, 2016)
Anna Morgan, an intermittently homeless teenager, has a tendency to pick up psychic “hitchhikers”: the remnants of dead souls, who need Anna’s help with their unfinished business. When Anna comes into contact with Molly, a teenage girl who was kidnapped by her stepfather and murdered by the son of a U.S. senator, she tries to put things right by reaching out to Molly’s grandfather, a gruff cop. Instead, Anna stumbles onto a nefarious conspiracy: the man who murdered Molly has psychic powers, and he’s continuing abandoned military research in an attempt to forcibly develop others’ psychic abilities. He’s ruthless and untouchable, and now Anna and her adoptive brother, Deo, are on his radar. Anna and Deo are a charismatic duo, and the story benefits from its focus on their connection as members of a found family rather than Anna’s budding romance with Aaron, a boy Molly knew. But the book-first in the Delphi trilogy from Walker (the Chronos Files)-suffers from a bloated plot and an overabundance of backstory. The middle of the book sags under its weight, and the story builds to a dissatisfying cliffhanger. Ages 13-up. (Oct.)

About the Author

Rysa Walker is the author of the bestselling Chronos Files series. Timebound, the first book in the series, was the Young Adult and Grand Prize winner in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards.

Rysa grew up on a cattle ranch in the South, where she read every chance she got. On the rare occasion that she gained control of the television, she watched Star Trek and imagined living in the future, on distant planets, or at least in a town big enough to have a stop light.

She currently lives in North Carolina, where she is working on her next series, The Delphi Project. If you see her on social media, please tell her to get back into the writing cave.

Her website is rysa.com.

Around the Web

The Delphi Effect on Amazon

The Delphi Effect on JLG

The Delphi Effect on Goodreads

 

Children of Exile by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Children of Exile by Margaret Peterson Haddix. September 13, 2016. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 304 p. ISBN: 9781442450035.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.3; Lexile: 680.

Rosi must decide what she’s willing to risk to save her family—and maybe even all of humanity—in the thrilling first novel of a brand-new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author, Margaret Peterson Haddix.

For the past twelve years, adults called “Freds” have raised Rosi, her younger brother Bobo, and the other children of their town, saying it is too dangerous for them to stay with their parents, but now they are all being sent back. Since Rosi is the oldest, all the younger kids are looking to her with questions she doesn’t have the answers to. She’d always trusted the Freds completely, but now she’s not so sure.

And their home is nothing like she’d expected, like nothing the Freds had prepared them for. Will Rosi and the other kids be able to adjust to their new reality?

Part of series: Children of Exile (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination; War; Violence; Criminal culture; Discussion of trauma; Kidnapping

 

Reviews

Publishers Weekly (July 11, 2016)
In this trilogy opener, Rosi and her younger brother, Bobo, are two of many children raised by Fred-mamas and Fred-daddies in Fredtown, a place of equality and harmony. After an agreement is struck, the children are forced to return home to their actual parents. At 12, Rosi is one of the oldest children, charged with protecting the others, including her estranged friend Edwy, who believes the Freds are just as fake as the Enforcers who take them away. When the children reach their real home, Rosi finds life unbearable under cruel parents and extreme poverty, despite the help of a missionary. When Edwy and Rosi work together to determine what happened to the charred buildings and maimed citizens of their new town, they discover severe inequality and a bias against their bright green eyes. Much as in Under Their Skin (2015), Haddix seems to be telling one story before pivoting sharply amid major revelations that shake up everything Rosi knows. Though the messaging isn’t subtle, Haddix gives readers lots to mull over regarding conflict, justice, and prejudice. Ages 10-up. Agent: Tracey Adams, Adams Literary

School Library Journal (July 1, 2016)
Gr 4-8-Twelve-year old Rosi has spent her entire life away from her parents. She, her brother, and the other children from her hometown were brought to Fredtown as infants to be kept safe from danger. This small, structured, and simple community named after the Norwegian word for peace is the only environment the children have ever known. When the Fred-parents abruptly inform the children they will be returning home, questions flood Rosi’s mind but are left unanswered. The children are forced onto an airplane heading to a place that feels foreign, where they are greeted by biological parents who are strangers to them. At first, Rosi is desperate to return to Fredtown. Then she begins to uncover mysteries and question what she’s been told all along. Haddix brilliantly sets up her story, giving readers just enough information to keep them grounded while elevating tension through Rosi’s uncertainty. Fast-paced action, plot twists, and cliff-hanger chapter endings will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Haddix’s tone and language and the absence of graphic violence make this an ideal selection for younger readers eager for a dystopian novel. -Beth Parmer, New Albany Elementary Library, OH

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.

Around the Web

Children of Exile on Amazon

Children of Exile on JLG

Children of Exile on Goodreads