Log In

Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the Table-of-Contents Database.

Get a digital subscription to Publishers Weekly for only $19.95/month.

Your subscription gives you instant access exclusive feature articles on notable figures in the publishing industry, he latest industry news, interviews of up and coming authors and bestselling authors, and access over 200,000 book reviews.

PW "All Access" site license members have access to PW's subscriber-only website content. To find out more about PW's site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time.

Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars

Richard Ho, illus. by Katherine Roy. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (44p) ISBN 978-1-250-19833-4

In this telling, the Curiosity rover resembles a less emotionally vulnerable, less anthropomorphized, but still adorable version of Pixar’s WALL-E. “The little rover likes to roam”; it zips around Mars, taking pictures and samples because “it is curious. It wants to learn about the world around it.” Besides, as debut author Ho reminds readers, this latest in a long, noble line of satellites and rovers is actually in constant communication with “whoever sent it. It tells them what it is like here.” It’s the contrast between Curiosity’s cheery determination and the forbidding world it inhabits that gives the book its power: Roy (Otis and Will Discover the Deep) renders many evocative images, among them a sandstorm created from swirling strokes of red, orange, and gray, and a double gatefold that drives home just how vast, red, and rocky the Red Planet is. Readers may be thrown—and perhaps a little disappointed—when the point of view shifts in the final pages from the eager Curiosity to the imperious Mars itself (“They call me Mars. I am not like your World”). But ultimately, the message remains the same: no one, and nothing, in the universe is truly alone. Ages 3–6. (Oct.)■

Reviewed on 08/16/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters

Emily Roberson. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-374-31062-2

For a decade, Ariadne, 16, has been the Keeper of the Maze in the annual fight-to-the-death reality TV show The Labyrinth Contest, in which 14 Athenians try to kill the Minotaur. This year, Theseus, the newly rediscovered Athenian prince, has decided to join the contest himself. By slaying the Minotaur, who is also Ariadne’s brother, he hopes to put an end to the death game. Complicating matters, Ariadne is attracted to Theseus, so when he asks for her help, she must decide whether to aid in the murder of her little brother or let her crush be killed. In addition, the show has been losing ratings, and with best friend Icarus’s career in the balance, fame-shy Ariadne literally and figuratively removes her mask to help make this the most exciting season yet. In her debut, Roberson expertly modernizes Greek mythology with a very Kardashian twist. Ariadne’s older sisters even have their own reality show, The Paradoxes, which follows their lives and sexual conquests as young, rich, and beautiful princesses. Newcomers to the myths may have to educate themselves to grasp all of the references, but those familiar with the characters will delight in this thoroughly contemporary soap opera’s reinvented and updated world. Ages 14–up. Agent: Kerry Sparks, Levine Greenberg Rostan. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/16/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All

Laura Ruby. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-231764-3

This evocative tale entwines the lives of two young women—one living, one dead—in Chicago on the cusp of WWII. In 1941, 14-year-old promising artist Frankie Mazza; her younger sister, Toni; and their older brother, Vito, are “half-orphans”—children left at orphanages by parents struggling financially. The nuns can be strict, even injurious, and the sisters are further abandoned when their father remarries and moves to Colorado, taking only Vito and his new wife’s children along. Narrator Pearl Brownlow, a ghost who died when she was not much older than Frankie, haunts Chicago’s streets and the orphanage, reflecting on Frankie’s life and her own. As Pearl slowly comes to terms with the shocking events that preceded her death, she watches Frankie fall in love and experience devastating loss, and witnesses the sisters’ eventual return to their father and his horrible new family. Printz winner Ruby (Bone Gap) creates a dreamlike rendering of Pearl’s afterlife that contrasts with Frankie’s stark, historically detailed circumstances. Though a slow unspooling may frustrate some, the women’s resonant journeys, marked by desire and betrayal, thoughtfully illuminate the deep harm that women and girls suffer at the hands of a patriarchal society as well as the importance of living fully. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/16/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Never Tilting World

Rin Chupeco. HarperTeen, $17.99 (496p) ISBN 978-0-06-282179-9

Generations of Aeon’s twin goddesses have appeased the Great Mother with a ritual that sacrifices one sister and enthrones the other. None has failed to complete the rite—until 17 years ago, when both Latona and Asteria survived. An abyss opened, dividing them, and planetary rotation ceased. Now, Latona’s hemisphere bakes in perpetual sunshine, while Asteria’s freezes in eternal darkness. The site of the Breaking reportedly also holds the magic to repair it, so Latona’s daughter, Haidee, and Asteria’s daughter, Odessa, embark on perilous treks toward the breach, as forces seem determined to unite them. The first in a planned duology, this rich fantasy from Chupeco (the Bone Witch trilogy) spotlights power’s corruptive influence, love’s redemptive nature, and the urgent concerns of climate change. Although complex worldbuilding occasionally eclipses character and plot, the tale’s scope and creativity astound. Gay and straight romances add additional intrigue, while four intertwining first-person narratives confer immediacy and depth. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/16/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Cursed

Thomas Wheeler, illus. by Frank Miller. Simon & Schuster, $24.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-5344-2533-0

In this loose reimagining of the Arthurian mythos (companion to a forthcoming Netflix series), a teenage member of the Fey Kind becomes the epicenter of momentous events after she receives the fabled Sword of Power from her dying mother. Charged with taking the sword to the wizard Merlin, Nimue, oft judged for “the scars on her back,” uses it instead to avenge and protect her people, who are being persecuted by religious zealots known as the Red Paladins. Along the way, she allies herself with roguish sell- sword Arthur and establishes herself as the figurehead of resistance against the Red Paladins and King Uther Pendragon’s court. Wheeler (The Arcanum) retains names from the Arthurian stories but little else: Merlin is a magicless fraud, Sir Bors is a thug, and Lancelot and Percival are nigh unrecognizable. The story takes place in an anachronistic England in which Fey Kind and humans dwell in an ill-defined time period after the fall of Rome, and no attempt has been made toward historical accuracy or verisimilitude. Flat dialogue, gory combat scenes, and a sprawling plot will likely better suit the small screen. Stylized illustrations by comic book artist Miller punctuate the narrative. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/16/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Scars Like Wings

Erin Stewart. Delacorte, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-9848-4882-6

It’s been a year since high school junior Ava escaped the fire that left her badly burned and took the lives of her closest loved ones: both her parents and her cousin Sarah. Nineteen surgeries later, Ava still feels as if she looks like a “monster,” but her doctor and new guardians, Sarah’s grieving parents, think it’s time she return to school. Unable to face her old friends, Ava enrolls in a different school, where she’s fully prepared for cruel reactions to her appearance. What she doesn’t expect to find are two companions who refuse to let her retreat into isolation: Piper, a fellow burn survivor who harbors a secret, and Pakistani-American Asad, who shares Ava’s passion for theater. Together, they coax Ava into auditioning for the school play and letting her talents shine. First-time author Stewart writes a sensitively handled story filled with relatable, three-dimensional characters. Without sugarcoating or overdramatizing her protagonists’ circumstances, she focuses on the internal challenges of survivors profoundly affected by trauma. Enhanced by journal entries and poetry, the first-person narrative movingly expresses Ava’s lingering sorrow and changing outlook as she navigates her way toward a new form of normalcy. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/16/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Rebel (Legend #4)

Marie Lu. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-22170-4

In this fourth installment of the Legend series, Lu revisits Daniel “Day” Altan Wing; his brilliant younger brother, Eden Bataar Wing; and Day’s love interest, June Iparis. Ten years after Day incited a revolution that brought down the Republic, he is an agent in the Antarctican Intelligence Service in Ross City, the world’s most advanced—and purportedly its fairest—metropolis. Residents live within a game-ified, level-based social and economic system that monitors and incentivizes good behavior with points; these unlock leveled privileges that control access to education, healthcare, housing, and jobs. But fundamental problems plague the allegedly egalitarian society, reminding the siblings of a tiered pre-revolution Republic. Day is willing to look the other way if it keeps Eden safe, but the injustices Eden sees in Undercity, where those of lower strata are forced to live, push him to take risks that place him in the path of Dominic Hann, a warlord intent on toppling the system for his gain. This tale of intrigue, alliances, and love will draw Legend fans and new readers into a fascinating world whose combined layers of privilege and surveillance draw comparisons to many present-day social ills. Ages 12–up. Agent: Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary Agency. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/16/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
In the Hall with the Knife (A Clue Mystery #1)

Diana Peterfreund. Amulet, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4197-3834-0

In Rocky Point, Maine, mystery and murder descend on elite Blackbrook Academy along with a raging winter storm. Peterfreund (the Omega City series) opens a smart new series, introducing readers to the boarding school’s inhabitants and their secrets, beginning with fanatically private Orchid McKee, local scholarship student Vaughn Green, athletic Beth “Peacock” Picach, military-minded Samuel “Mustard” Maestor, and the school’s power couple, Scarlet Mistry and Finn Plum. When nasty weather cuts the school off from the outside world and forces those remaining to gather in old, majestic Tudor House, the varied personalities are forced to coexist in some measure of peace. But after Mr. Boddy, their headmaster and one of the two chaperones, mysteriously turns up dead, the students need to maximize their diverse skill sets in order to stay alive. Told alternatingly from the students’ viewpoints, the plot capitalizes on the popularity of the game upon which it’s based, incorporating clever wordplay with tantalizingly distributed tidbits of information. The many remaining questions will help ramp up anticipation for the next installment. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/16/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong #1)

Kwame Mbalia. Disney-Hyperion/Riordan, $17.99 (496p) ISBN 978-1-368-03993-2

In this triumphant middle grade debut inspired by West African mythology and African-American folk tales, black seventh grader Tristan Strong is sent from Chicago to spend the summer on his grandparents’ Alabama farm. His best friend has just died, and he’s lost a boxing match (much to his boxing family’s disappointment). When a talking doll named Gum Baby steals his prized book of stories— which has mysteriously begun to glow—Tristan pursues, accidentally tearing a hole between the farm and the myriad lands of Alke. There, he encounters legendary folk heroes such as hammer-swinging John Henry and wily Brer Fox, whose people are being captured and enslaved by terrifying monsters. To mend the rift, save the day, and return home, Tristan and his allies must seek out the missing trickster god Anansi, a journey that takes them to regions inhabited by ancient gods. As a reluctant hero—afraid of heights, grieving, and burdened by past failures—Tristan’s voice rings true and sympathetic, while the irrepressible Gum Baby steals every scene. Mbalia expertly weaves a meaningful portrayal of family and community with folklore, myth, and history—including the legacy of the slave trade—creating a fast-paced, heroic series starter. Ages 8–12. Agent: Victoria Marini, Cake Literary. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/16/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Space We’re In

Katya Balen. Holiday House/Ferguson, $17.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4289-8

Balen’s powerfully emotional debut tells the story of 10-year-old Frank and his five-year-old brother Max, who is autistic and nonverbal. Frank loves footie, codes and ciphers, and pretending to be a “wildboy” with his friends in the wilderness near his house; Max likes only four foods, hates bright colors, and will only wear one kind of T-shirt: “gray with yellow stripes.” Much of the siblings’ home life is organized around Max’s needs, sometimes leaving Frank feeling ignored, but their distracted parents are quick to give Frank special attention when he needs it. Frank’s dense stream-of-consciousness narration conveys authentic emotional shifts: trying to be sensitive to his brother’s particularities, but feeling frustrated that he doesn’t have “a normal brother” and finding himself unable to stand up to the schoolmates who mock Max. After a tragedy, Frank discovers inner strength that helps him connect with Max and produce a creative way for the family to process their grief. Balen, who has worked with autistic people in various settings, sensitively depicts the experience of love, and of loving a neurodiverse family member. Ages 8–12. Agent: Catherine Drayton, InkWell Management. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/16/2019 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

Not Registered? Click here.