Marie Lu. Roaring Brook, $19.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-22168-1
When the Karensa Federation invaded Basea a decade ago, Talin Kanami and her mother fled north to Mara. Now 18 and using sign language due to emotional and vocal cord scarring from that night, Talin is a Striker, the sole refugee on an elite squadron deemed “the last defense Mara has against the Federation.” Strikers battle Ghosts, formerly human “monstrous war beasts” whose bites inflict transformation. Despite rampant xenophobia, Talin is determined to protect “the last free nation on this side of the sea.” But when Talin protests an execution order for Federation defector Redlen Arabes, her commander, the Firstblade Aramin Wen Calla, imposes a punishment: Talin must take Red as her Shield, a fighting partner bonded for life. As Talin gets to know Red, she learns he is the Federation’s greatest experiment: the Skyhunter, a “half-man, half-machine weapon.” Soon, Talin, Red, and fellow Strikers Adena Min Ghanna and Jeran Min Terra devise a plan to destabilize the empire. Lu (The Kingdom of Back) creates a devastating, war-torn world, built upon the wreckage of a technologically advanced society. Readers will eagerly await a follow-up to this engrossing dystopian novel, which searingly interrogates traumas of war, immigration, and imperialism. Ages 12–up. Agent: Kristin Nelson, Nelson Agency. [em](Sept.) [/em]
Correction: This review has been updated to reflect changes to the book's text.
Reviewed on: 09/03/2020