cover image Last Star Burning

Last Star Burning

Caitlin Sangster. Simon Pulse, $18.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-4814-8613-2

The people of the City are beset by encephalitis lethargica—sleeping sickness—and drug-resistant strains are cropping up. The symptoms can be violent, but 16-year-old Jiang Sev, who is infected, places her trust in the City. Years ago, Sev’s mother betrayed the City, infecting Sev with the disease, and now lies in stasis, on display above the Traitor’s Arch, leaving Sev branded and diminished in status. When Sev is blamed for a bombing, she and a secretive boy named Howl wind up on the run. Howl insists that answers lie at a far-off mountain, but the journey is dangerous, and the promise of safety may only be an illusion. Loosely inspired by China’s Cultural Revolution, Sangster’s vibrant debut is set in a world where class and status define its citizens; some genuinely surprising twists highlight Sev’s struggle to accept a reality vastly different from what she has known. Her candid voice propels the tense narrative to a conclusion that leaves no question where Sev’s convictions and loyalties lie and sets up the next chapter in her journey. Ages 12–up. Agent: Victoria Wells Arms, Wells Arms Literary. (Oct.)