From the Above the Black series , Vol. 1

A thrilling and brilliantly realized series opener; readers will clamor for the next installment.

To save his younger sister from their villainous uncle, a 16-year-old enters a perilous contest that involves killing massive sky serpents.

Anyone living on the socially stratified floating islands can rise in status by dueling or entering a Trade. Conrad, once a High, is demoted after his uncle kills his father and assumes the role of Archduke. After his mother is killed, Conrad tries to reunite with Ella, the sister his uncle abducted, but Uncle demands that he first enter the Selection and rise through the ranks of one of the Twelve Trades. Chosen by Hunter, which is responsible for exterminating the menacing, steel-scaled gorgantauns, Conrad is soon taking part in the Gauntlet, a deadly contest between airships to see which crew can kill the most gorgantauns. But he won’t just have to battle sky serpents—Conrad also faces the ever-present threat of mutiny, a murder attempt, and shifting loyalties. Amid budding friendships, the crew unearths startling truths about their world, revealing a more profound conflict than Conrad envisioned. Gregson’s YA debut provides a skillful blend of action, suspense, and comic relief. After each airship battle, readers can barely draw breath before political intrigues turn the story on its head, but this is also a touching story of found family and personal growth. Most major characters read white; in this racially diverse world, one crew member has dark skin.

A thrilling and brilliantly realized series opener; readers will clamor for the next installment. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781682635766

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Peachtree Teen

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023


Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023


From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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