cover image Powerless (Powerless #1)

Powerless (Powerless #1)

Lauren Roberts. Simon & Schuster, $19.99 (528p) ISBN 978-1-6659-5488-4

For decades, the Kingdom of Ilya has been populated by Elites, the lucky few who received supernatural abilities after surviving a devastating plague. In a society in which Ordinaries are systematically exiled by the king, orphan Paedyn Gray, 18, leads a hardscrabble life posing as a Psychic to hide her Ordinary status. After she saves 19-year-old Prince Kai Azer in a chance encounter, Paedyn is selected to compete in the Purging Trials, where she must fight against other Elites in a prestigious tournament meant to showcase Ilya’s best and brightest. Kai’s participation complicates matters further, especially since he has been trained to hunt and kill Ordinaries. As the Trials become increasingly deadly, Paedyn and Kai must reconcile their burgeoning romantic feelings for each other with their respective places in a brutal and discriminatory society. Roberts unevenly touches on themes of privilege and inequality via sometimes overly descriptive prose, which slows the pace of this titillating debut. Paedyn and Kai’s alternating POVs skillfully juxtapose steamy romantic encounters with heart-pounding action and gory violence, delivering a tale of political and personal intrigue that capably kicks off an epic trilogy. Characters cue as white. Ages 14–up. (Nov.)