Monday, June 15, 2015

Double Review: Kalahari and The Hidden Prince


Kalahari by Jessica Khoury
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository
Release date: February 24th, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Length: 368 pages
Source: ARC from the publisher
Rating: Pretty entertaining adventure thriller-ma-bob

Deep in the Kalahari Desert, a Corpus lab protects a dangerous secret…
But what happens when that secret takes on a life of its own?

When an educational safari goes wrong, five teens find themselves stranded in the Kalahari Desert without a guide. It’s up to Sarah, the daughter of zoologists, to keep them alive and lead them to safety, calling on survival know-how from years of growing up in remote and exotic locales. Battling dehydration, starvation and the pangs of first love, she does her best to hold it together, even as their circumstances grow increasingly desperate.

But soon a terrifying encounter makes Sarah question everything she’s ever known about the natural world. A silver lion, as though made of mercury, makes a vicious, unprovoked attack on the group. After a narrow escape, they uncover the chilling truth behind the lion’s silver sheen: a highly contagious and deadly virus that threatens to ravage the entire area—and eliminate life as they know it.

In this breathtaking new novel by the acclaimed author of Origin and Vitro, Sarah and the others must not only outrun the virus, but its creators, who will stop at nothing to wipe every trace of it.

So part of why I was really excited to read this book is twofold. One, I was actually IN Botswana last summer, so I was anxious to read about a part of the world I'm visually familiar with (Khoury def didn't disappoint in that regard). Two, I have DEEP, DEEP LOVE for stories in which people are stranded in nature and must BATTLE THE ELEMENTS and PERSEVERE against SUPREME ODDS. I've seen practically every episode of the truly gruesome I Shouldn't Be Alive, God knows why, but this shiz is my jam.

So yeah, as the the synopsis, this book is about a bunch of teenagers who are in the Kalahari desert on one of those summer academic program-y things (which is SHOCKINGLY ORGANIZED I might say my god). They're all regular American kids, coming to stay with Sarah and her wildlife researcher father, who live in a tent in the desert. So yeah, there's culture clash, which seems like the worst thing ever until POACHERS and Sarah and the kids are STRANDED and there are men trying to kill them and also a lion that's SILVER. And all kinds of terrible things, and suddenly Sarah and the five wilderness noobs are fighting for their lives.

This kind of thriller combined with SURIVING THE WILDERNESS is totally my catnip, despite some truly mind numbing  choices a few of the characters made. If I'd been one of the city kids, I 100% would have sued Sarah's dad for abandoning me in the middle of the desert with his teenage daughter, taking the only car, the only satellite radio, and ALL THE FOOD supplies with him. But once the kids are on their own, Sarah is really amazingly resourceful and cool, keeping them all alive, crawling into snake holes (?!?!?!?!) and stuff. My jam. The romance is extremely useless, and honestly shouldn't be here, though I liked how all the kids--who were initially all hostile to each other--bonded. All in all, an absorbing adventure tale with bonus Kalahari wildlife.

Tie-ins to the other loosely related books feature the Corpus corporation (corpusation? idk), but it's not necessary to have read the other two first.


The Hidden Prince by Jodi Meadows (The Orphan Queen #1.5)
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Release date: June 2nd, 2015
Publisher: Epic Reads Impulse (HarperTeen)
Length: 58 pages
Source: Purchased
Rating: This is gonna be good! Once it, you know, technically starts.

Warning: spoilers for The Orphan Queen

The city of Skyvale is in trouble. Magic use is rampant. Crime is spreading. Told from the perspective of Tobiah, the crown prince with a dangerous secret, and set two years before the heart-racing action of The Orphan Queen, this 100-page digital novella brings to life one of Jodi Meadows's most beloved characters.

Tobiah Pierce knows he is a spoiled, sheltered prince, and he's tired of it. His only chance for freedom is if his cousin, James Rayner, passes the trials to be one of his bodyguards. But when Tobiah takes a rare opportunity to escape a courtly celebration and he witnesses a horrible—and magical—crime, he must make a momentous decision: return to the ignorance and comfort of the palace, or risk everything to discover the truth?

The Hidden Prince is the first of four prequel novellas that offer existing fans a deeper insight into a favorite character and the complex city of Skyvale, while new readers will find a stunning introduction to this rich world and the heart-pounding fantasy of the Orphan Queen series.

Epic Reads Impulse is a digital imprint focused on young adult short stories and novellas, with new releases the first Tuesday of each month.

SO. This is the first of four novellas set in the world of The Orphan Queen, centering around a certain prince and telling the story of how he came to be the feared vigilante Black Knife. It's a story I'm fearsomely excited to read, and while The Hidden Prince is really, really good, and I devoured all 58 pages in like half an hour, it really is just the first chapter of what WILL be a great tale.

I wasn't expecting to enjoy Tobiah's POV this much, but I AM. This novella has all the strengths of TOQ while even addressing some of the issues I had (more clarity of world building, for instance. The names still bother me). But honestly, my only complain is that it's so obviously the very beginning of a larger narrative and reading it the day it came out was a BAD CALL because ahhhh THINGS were just happening! Coming across the two first chapters of The Mirror King at the end, and realized that meant The Hidden Prince was over

I LOVE the growth I can see coming in Tobiah. His and James' relationship is precious. I AM EXCITE TO SEE HOW HE BECOMES WHAT HE BECOMES. You can really feel the struggle he has, and you can just see how he's going to go from being a sheltered, shackled prince into...well, Black Knife.

I just wish I didn't have to wait until September for the next novella.


  1. Stunning reviews Gillian :D So glad that you enjoyed both books. <3 I have yet to read Kalahari, but soon :D It sounds like it will be awesome. YAY for loving the plot :D But aw, you didn't like the romance? :( That isn't a good sign.. sigh. I need good romances :p And yay for loving The Hidden Prince :D I ADORE TOBIAH. He is perfect. Ugh. I need the next novella right now too :)

  2. Ooh Kalahari looks really good! Definitely going to be reading that!

  3. The Hidden Prince was LOVELY. I adore Tobiah and I adore James <3 I can't wait till we get the next novella -- why is it so far away? *cries*

  4. omg! i hate when a romance is useless wahhh

  5. Kalahari sounds vaguely like the movie A Far Off Place (which I LOVED as a kid, for obvious same reasons).


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