Fate of Flames

368p. (Effigies: Bk. 1). ebook available. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Nov. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481466776.
Gr 8 Up—In an indeterminate future city, large, energy-emitting needles protect cities from phantoms, mystical monsters bent on destruction. Because the needles work so well, phantom attacks are virtually nonexistent in the major cities. But when the needles fail and the creatures attack, the last line of defense is four Effigies, girls with elemental powers that can defeat the monsters. Seventeen-year-old Maia is an Effigy fangirl, and when an Effigy dies, Maia becomes her replacement. With phantom attacks only recently popping up everywhere and protection technology failing, the superpowered teens will need to figure out what's going on and who seems to be controlling the phantoms. But first they will have to learn to get along and work together. Romance does not overwhelm the action of this tale as it does in other paranormal series. Maia is realistically timid and self-conscious; intellectually she knows what to do, but acting on it isn't so easy. Unfortunately, the setting is ambiguous and rapidly changing, and weak world-building leaves unanswered questions about what the phantoms are, where they came from, and why they exist at all.
VERDICT This thrilling novel is full of superhero girls with ninja-warrior powers, so despite its flaws, it may still be popular with fans of Cassandra Clare's "Mortal Instruments" books and Naoko Takeuchi's "Sailor Moon" graphic novel series.

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