Thursday, October 1, 2015

New YA Series: The Scorpion Rules, Reawakened, Court of Fives, and After the Red Rain

New series in the young adult world are frequently fantasies. If authors are going to go to the trouble of creating a whole new world, they certainly don't want to leave it after one book.  Also, getting book deals from publishers is probably a lot easier if authors promise several books in a series.  This month I will review four new books that kick off new series that I think kids will enjoy.  Erin Bow's The Scorpion Rules: Prisoners of Peace establishes a world where the children of world leaders are held hostage, paying with their lives if their country enters a war. Colleen Houck's Reawakened takes us to the Valley of Kings where three Egyptian princes are reawakened every thousand years to fight off the evil god Seth. Kate Elliott's Court of Fives introduces Jessamy, a mixed-heritage girl who longs to compete in a multi-disciplinary endurance contest known as the Game of Fives. Finally, Barry Lyga's After the Red Rain is a post-apocalyptic dystopian novel about a world destroyed by a toxic rain where the remaining people struggle to survive.

In The Scorpion Rules: Prisoners of Peace, Erin Bow, winner of the Monica Hughes award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, imagines a world where an artificial intelligence named Talis has mandated world peace, by raising the children of world leaders in a U.N controlled enclave called the Precepture.  Should a country go to war, the child of that country's leader dies.  Greta, the crown princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy, is comfortable with the status quo until Elian arrives and defies the machines that rule their lives.  When their to countries declare war, Greta is determined to find a way to save them. Although Elian is not Greta's love interest (Princess Xie is), she cares deeply about this rebellious boy who inspires her to grapple with tough decisions in this world where sacrifices must be made for the greater good. This thought-provoking tale is filled with twists and turns that will keep readers engaged and looking forward to the next installment.

Colleen Houck, author of the best-selling Tiger's Curse series, takes on Egyptian mythology in the well-researched first book of the Reawakened Series. Lilliana Young meets Amon, a live Egyptian prince who has been reawakened after 1,000 years of mummification, when she is visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Amon cannot find his canopic jars filled with his life's essence and must bond with Lily so that her energy can sustain him while he fulfills his destiny.  She travels with him to the Valley of Kings to find his brothers, also resurrected mummies, who must help him stop the evil shape-shifting god Seth from taking over the world. Lily and Amon's romance takes a back seat to the non-stop battle scenes with other-worldly demons determined to thwart them.  This is a perfect series for readers graduating from Rick Riordan's middle level action adventures.

Kate Elliott, World Fantasy Award finalist for her adult novels, just published Court of Fives, the first in her new young adult fantasy series. The trilogy opener introduces Jessamy, a girl of mixed heritage who longs to compete in a multi-disciplinary endurance test known as the Game of Fives. Her father, a skillful soldier of noble blood, who has four daughters with his commoner wife, is unaware that Jes has been training for the contest.  Masked, Jes participates in the game, but allows Kalliarkos, the nephew of Lord Gargaon, to win, hoping to avoid detection.  When her father's patron dies, Lord Gargaron becomes his patron and breaks up the family, but at Kalliarkos's urging, allows Jes to train at the palace.  Jes, who finds herself falling for Kalliarkos, enlists his help in rescuing her mother and sisters, who have been entombed with the dead patron, During her struggles, Jes realizes the Game of Fives is far more than a game in the history of warring kingdoms, and she tries to determine its significance and her role in it.  This page-turner is an obvious choice for fans of The Hunger Games.

Barry Lyga (I Hunt Killers) has teamed up with Peter Facinelli (Dr. Cullen in the Twilight movies) and producer Robert Defranco in penning After the Red Rain, a post-apocalyptic thriller that is bound for the silver screen.  The story is set after a toxic rain caused by environmental devastation destroys the earth and most of the people who inhabit it.  When Deedra, an orphan, who now supports herself with factory work and scavenging, rescues Rose, a boy struggling to cross a poisoned river, she enters into a unique partnership which may just be key in saving the planet.  Rose, whose true genetic nature is hinted at in his name, has unexplained abilities that are gradually revealed, as he and Deedra fight the powers that be, and in doing so, they become inextricably bound to one another. The unique story line and sympathetic characters make this a dystopian novel that stands out in an overcrowded genre.

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