Ascendant

( 24 )

Overview

Astrid Llewelyn is now a fully trained unicorn hunter, but she can't solve all her problems with just a bow and arrow. Herboyfriend, Giovanni, has decided to leave Rome, the Cloisters isin dire financial straits, her best friend's powers are mysteriouslydisintegrating, and Astrid can't help but feel that school, home, andher hopes of becoming a scientist are impossible dreams.So when she's given the opportunity to leave the Cloisters andput her skills to use as part of a scientific quest to discover theRemedy, ...

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Ascendant

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Overview

Astrid Llewelyn is now a fully trained unicorn hunter, but she can't solve all her problems with just a bow and arrow. Herboyfriend, Giovanni, has decided to leave Rome, the Cloisters isin dire financial straits, her best friend's powers are mysteriouslydisintegrating, and Astrid can't help but feel that school, home, andher hopes of becoming a scientist are impossible dreams.So when she's given the opportunity to leave the Cloisters andput her skills to use as part of a scientific quest to discover theRemedy, Astrid leaps at the chance. Finally, she can have exactlywhat she wants—or can she? At Gordian headquarters in the Frenchcountryside, Astrid begins to question everything she thought shebelieved: her love for Giovanni, her loyalty to the Cloisters, and—most of all—her duty as a hunter. Should Astrid be saving the worldfrom killer unicorns, or saving the unicorns from the world?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this thrilling sequel to Peterfreund's Rampant, Astrid Llewelyn has come to terms with her magical abilities to hunt poisonous flesh-eating unicorns, but not with the cloistered, nun-like lifestyle it demands of her, nor of the changes to her body ("I looked like a bodybuilder. It wasn't feminine. It wasn't beautiful"). Fate in the form of Isabeau Jaeger, the wife of an old enemy, offers Astrid a new job that appears tailor-made for reconciling her present life with her earlier dreams of a medical career: guarding a herd of captive unicorns, paired with university science classes, all for greater good of researching the Remedy, the legendary unicorn-sourced cure-all. But luxurious surroundings, fancy new clothes, and a renewed friendship with an ex-boyfriend-turned-research-colleague fail to still Astrid's growing unease about the ethics of unicorn treatment and her role in determining the future of the unicorn species, as well as her own destiny. The strong yet vulnerable heroine, compelling conflicts, and exquisite settings should find a voracious audience in those familiar with the first installment, though the complexities of Peterfreund's world will be more challenging for readers beginning mid-series. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)
VOYA - Sherry Rampey
We have heard fairytales about how wonderful unicorns can be. They have mystical powers that can heal and some can fly, but what if what we have heard was just that—a fairytale? In Astrid Llewelyn's world, unicorns are fierce and powerful, and would like nothing better than to have a human for a snack. Astrid is a full-blown unicorn hunter, who, after learning about her family tree, defeating a traitorous enemy, and nearly getting killed, has yet to learn the full extent of her powers. In Peterfreund's most recent novel about Astrid, the reader is introduced to the mind of the unicorn and how it became the beast it is. Peterfreund plows forward with the plot until the middle of the book, where it begins to meander. The setting is surreal, but the characteristics and details that Peterfreund uses to define her setting set the mood and tone of the book. For those teens interested in different perspectives on unicorn lore and who like action-packed fantasy, this will be a sure bet. Readers may want to read the first book, Rampant (HarperTeen, 2009/VOYA June 2009), in this series, as a bit of the plot in Ascendant concerns what happened in the past. Reviewer: Sherry Rampey
Children's Literature - Elizabeth Young
In a literary world preoccupied by vampires, the occult, and alternative realities, this work fits right in. Peterfreund's novel also includes magic, alternative lifestyles, lesbianism, unicorns, danger, crime and other pressure points in this sequel to Rampant. Astrid, a unicorn hunter comes to terms with herself and her life as one of several teenage girls in a cloister in Italy. It is a cloister of unicorn hunters, but one that has seen better days. The girls are losing their "magic" and no one knows why. Unicorns are once again attacking humans after centuries of being apparently nonexistent. The question becomes not how to stop the unicorns, but how to control the hunters and any "magic" they may possess. "Girl Power" takes on a whole new meaning in this tale. The girls must be virgins for the hunting to happen, and it is up to them to carry out the tradition of a semi-secluded lifestyle. Astrid longs to attend college and become a physician. She dreams of her life with Giovanni, now across the Atlantic in New York City. She yearns for a better life, but realizes the practicality and security of where she is. She finds herself in an experimental institution where she must come to terms with her heritage and her hopes before it is too late. Or is it already too late? Lots of action and intrigue, but also lots of questions and needless killings of humans and "unicorns." This book is not for everyone, nor is it likely to become a classic, as the subject matter seems to bring about more confusion than one needs for an already complex generation. Reviewer: Elizabeth Young
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Second novels sometimes pale in comparison to the series opener. Ascendant is not one of them. More sophisticated in both content and structure than the straightforward Rampant (HarperTeen, 2009), this title echoes the growing development of narrator Astrid as she questions the ethical complexities of her new life as a unicorn hunter. The threat of man-eating unicorns is increasing worldwide, and only the virgin descendants of Alexander the Great can stand against them. Many girls are choosing to give up their eligibility rather than accept the challenge, making new hunters difficult to find and train. Astrid, who hates hunting even while loving the powers that her calling gives her, takes a job with a pharmaceutical company, guarding the unicorns they use for testing. Once, she hoped to become a doctor, and her search for the recipe for the Remedy, a unicorn-based cure-all, appeals to her as an echo of the life she once wanted. But faced with the realities of animal testing and dubious behavior on the part of her employers, Astrid must decide where her loyalties lie, and the impact of that choice takes her in a direction she never imagined possible. Peterfreund is sure to gain a stronger following with Ascendant, and fans will eagerly await further titles in the series.—Alana Joli Abbott, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT
Kirkus Reviews

Picking up where Rampant (2009) ended, this meandering and often slow sequel finds Astrid Llewelyn questioning her life as a virginal unicorn hunter in a camouflage habit (now required by the Church and the novel's only bit of humor), wanting to return to freedom and her education and saying goodbye to her college-bound boyfriend. She may have found a compromise when Isabeau Jaeger, the wife of the mad scientist killed in the series opener and new head of Gordian Pharmaceuticals, invites her to live in Limoges, France, in exchange for her help with unicorns held captive to research and create more of the Remedy against their poison. Although it continues the themes of feminism and mythology (including the story of Diana and Actaeon) begun earlier, this sequel is less about unicorn battles and more about Astrid's search for self as she ponders the ethics of animal testing, the conundrum of saving humans from deadly animals and the ramifications of driving them extinct as well as the meaning of her virginity and advances from her ex-boyfriend. Unanswered questions beg for a sequel. (Fantasy. YA)

ALA Booklist
“Astrid is painted with a strong brush.”
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“For those teens interested in different perspectives on unicorn lore and who like action-packed fantasy, this will be a sure bet. ”
Locus
Praise for Rampant: “Tired of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Try Astrid the Unicorn Hunter.”
Carrie Ryan
“Ascendant is fast paced, fresh and engrossing—plus it has killer unicorns, what could be better? I love this book!”
Malinda Lo
“I was riveted by Ascendant. It’s not only about killer unicorns; it’s also about finding the courage to make tough decisions—and to be true to yourself. I think Astrid rocks!”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061490026
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2010
  • Pages: 392
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: HL770L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Diana Peterfreund is the author of nine books for adults and teens and over half a dozen critically acclaimed short stories. Though she loves the frocks and lush climate of New Pacifica, for now she lives in the far more prosaic Washington, DC, with her husband, her daughter, and her dog, Rio.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 24 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(10)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

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1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 11, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    review taken from One Book At A Time http://onebooktime.blogspot.com

    After reading Rampant and enjoying it, I was hoping Ascendant would live up to it. I was surprised at the direction the author decided to take this one. I pretty sure anybody that it's an animal lover might have issues with it. I liked the story but had a hard time stomaching some of the issues the unicorns face. It's actually kind of heartbreaking. Plus, there's still the focus on sex and virginity. It's not in your face, but it's hard to not notice the small paragraphs talking about 15 year-olds losing their virginity just to avoid dealing with the unicorns.

    Astrid grew in leaps and bounds in this one, but yet in some ways remains your typical teenager. In the beginning you can tell, she's still all about her duty. I'm not saying she likes killing unicorns, but she doesn't see an alternative. And she doesn't see what good all of her cousin's lobbying to protect the unicorns is going to do. But, in her days to day dealings with unicorns at Gordian headquarters, you can tell the direction she's headed. And this is a way she's a typical teen, she believes she can single-handedly save them all.

    Her relationships in this one are really interesting. Of course the minute Giovanni lives to go back to the states, she begins to doubt her relationship. Which of course leads her to do stupid things. She's also far to trusting. I also like how her relationship with her cousin changes. At the beginning of the book, they are in different places. I think they reach a real understanding of each other in the end.

    My only real disappointment is learning the author doesn't plan on writing a sequel anytime soon. The book wraps up without a real cliff hanger. But, I don't think the story is over.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012

    will there be a third

    will there be a third

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2012

    Hmm

    I thought id hate the book cause it had less action but it was actully really good. I hope she comes out with a next book. The ending is such a cliff hanger.....i didnt like it much either....Anyways it was still really good though not as good as the first in the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2011

    don't waste your time...

    you have to trust me on this one. i'll say it as simply as i can: don't waste your time reading this book. don't read it or even don't think about reading it. it's boring and not as exciting as the first one. it will disappoint you. it took me forever to just finish the book. the only reason i kept reading was because i kept on thinking "oh, the good part will come soon. i just have to get to it". wrong. there is no good part. the ending is bad and disappointing, and the entire book is confusing. don't waste your time reading this book. just. trust. me.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 13, 2011

    Great sequel!

    ASCENDANT, by Diana Peterfreund, delves deeper into the lives of Unicorn Hunters and Astrid's hope to discover the secret to the Remedy. The second book in this series wrapped me up completely from the beginning, but in a different way than Rampant. The first book was captivating to me because of the unicorn folklore and bloody action scenes that left me breathless. This book was equally good, but in a very different way.

    Astrid is left alone in Rome when Giovanni goes back to school in New York. She has the other hunters and Phil to keep her company, but she finds herself being smothered by their new patron and their strict rules. She is offered a position as a unicorn 'jailer' at Gordian headquarters. This job does not include a lot of hunting so Astrid is left to her thoughts. But the longer she says at Gordian, the more questions she has, and getting the answers proves more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.

    I liked the new setting that Peterfreund explored in this book. I enjoyed getting to know the grounds of Gordian and was curious about the secrets it held. Also, the reemergence of a 'lost' character from Book One added an extra element of tension. And the unicorns! The rare einhorn species was a main focus at Gordian. I liked the precision and calculation that Astrid performed to gain the trust of these unknown creatures.

    There was a lot less action in this book, but so many revelations. I love being inside Astrid's mind. She uses her brains and brawn for what she thinks are good causes. She is constantly torn between her heart and what she was meant to do. There are so many events that made this book amazing, I won't ruin them, but they did strengthen my love for these books and characters. I am hoping there is a number three in the near future.

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  • Posted January 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Joan Stradling for Teens Read Too

    In RAMPANT, Diana Peterfreund introduced us to the darker side of unicorns and Astrid, the unicorn hunter. In ASCENDANT, Astrid's adventures continue. Now a fully trained unicorn hunter, Astrid is given the opportunity to leave the Cloisters and go to France to help in discovering the Remedy. Unfortunately, leaving Rome doesn't solve Astrid's problems. She is put in charge of a herd of Einhorns and discovers there's more to the unicorns than she thought. This revelation makes her question many things in her life; her love for Giovanni, her loyalty to the Cloisters, and her duty as a hunter. There weren't as many instances of sexual tension and passion as in the first book, and I liked ASCENDANT more because of this. The introduction of new characters and the further development of previously introduced characters added to the story and made for an enjoyable read. I look forward to more from Peterfreund in the future.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2010

    Review

    Not as good as the first book !

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    Posted March 9, 2011

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