by Diana Peterfreund


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061490057
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/12/2012
Series: Killer Unicorns , #2
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 901,888
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.82(h) x 0.96(d)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Diana Peterfreund is the author of many books for adults and children, including the critically acclaimed For Darkness Shows the Stars and Across a Star-Swept Sea. She lives with her family outside Washington, DC, in a house full of bookshelves, and is always on the lookout for lost cities or stray rocket ships.

What People are Saying About This

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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Ascendant 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
pagese More than 1 year ago
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.
SJKessel on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Peterfreund, D. (2010). Ascendant. New York: HarperTeen.392 pages.Appetizer: About a month after the events of Rampant, Astrid, a self-described "celibate unicorn hunter living in a nunnery" (p. 29) and the rest of the Order of the Lioness are still at work in Italy, hunting down violent unicorns. But, it soon becomes clear not all is well. Cory seems to be losing her ability to sense and fight the unicorns. Astrid's boyfriend, Giovanni, has to return to the United States to go back to college. The Catholic church is trying to establish rules of conduct for the order members (including awful nun habit-like uniforms) and Neil and Cory are still looking for the guy who was hired to rape Phil. The search for him will lead Astrid to France and to an opportunity to be free of killing unicorns if she's only try to contain a herd for testing to find the elusive remedy that can cure almost any illness.I'll admit, I had a lot of trouble getting into Ascendant at first. Since I'd read Rampant over a year ago, I could not keep most of the characters straight. While Peterfreund did a good job of providing backstory into the events of Rampant, I felt like I was just expected to know who was who. And that didn't work for me.Shel + Remembering Names = BAD!!!!!!!Eventually, as the story continued, I eased back in. (Still don't quiz me on who did what in the previous book and how it connects to this one, because I won't be able to answer.) The scene when the girls first tried on their new modified, camouflage uniforms was a big help:"I'm wearing a camouflage habit.""But a cute one," Phil pointed out.All up and down the dorm hallway, I could hear the other hunters groaning as they tried on our new hunting uniforms. The outfit consisted of thick, polyester, camouflage-patterned split skirts that fell all the way to our ankles, a long camo head scarf, and matching long-sleeved, high-necked jackets. (p. 44)I tried to find a picture to pair with this quote. But it turns out googling, "camouflage nun habit" didn't churn up much in terms of camouflaged nun clothing. I did wind up with images that could be analyzed as a paper on gender studies:So I had to imagine for myself exactly how awful these outfits were:Buffy would never put up with this!I have to say, while Rampant was literally my favorite book of 2009, I'm less passionate about Ascendant. I still loved Astrid and her dialogue with other characters, I enjoyed the questions over the morality of killing unicorns and over the ethics of animal testing. Peterfreund's writing is still great and she does an amazing job of raising questions over large issues in a way that doesn't feel forced. I just didn't like the trajectory of Astrid's journey. She spent a lot of this novel alone, watching over a herd of unicorns. While the plot was still interesting, I missed the battles of Rampant, I missed the dialogue exchanges that Astrid would have with other hunters. *Vague spoiler* Then, about three-quarters of the way through the novel *someone* is seriously injured. I did not like that. It wasn't as terrible as, say, the ending of Mockingjay which had be shouting "Seriously? Seriously?!" as I finished the book, but stuff happened that I did not want to happen.And I'm left wondering if there will be a third book. Because while Ascendant does offer some resolution to some of the major conflicts in the series, there are still other questions left unresolved.Dinner Conversation: "The unicorn drew its last breath. Within its chest, its heart shuddered and stopped. Twenty yards away, I felt it die, and the world settled into normality. Fire and flood ebbed, the tunnel widened, and my thoughts became my own" (p. 1)."When I took a unicorn, it was more out of reflex than anything else. The magic took over. It was just me, my prey, and my weapon. There was no discussion with the other hunters about whose "turn" it was. Hesitation might result in one of us ending up dead. A unico
pocketmermaid on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I loved the first "Killer Unicorns" book, and this one was even more amazing. This story had me reading late into the night, just as the first one did. Peterfreund's writing holds me captive.
ReadingWithMartinis on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I couldn¿t be more in love with this series if it got down on one knee and proposed. Ascendant picks up pretty much where Rampant left off. Astrid is now a fully-trained unicorn hunter still living in the Cloisters in Rome. Life is not a happy thing for Astrid, though. She struggles tremendously with the idea of her duty (killing the unicorns) vs. her desire (going to college, having a normal life). While she knows she must help to protect people from the viciousness of the unicorns, she also can¿t help but wonder if the unicorns don¿t also need to be protected from people.Astrid does a lot of soul searching in this novel, trying to find the answer to her quandary. Through this soul searching, we see Astrid grow tremendously as a character. She is still the sarcastic, spunky girl we came to love, but she has added depth.That is not to say that there isn¿t plenty of unicorn killing action in this book, because OH THERE IS. There is also a HUGE plot twist in this book that I am dying to tell, but since I don¿t do spoilers, I won¿t (if/when you read this book, tweet me and we¿ll discuss!), but HOLY MOTHER OF PLOT TWISTS.Everything about this book was superb. I absolutely cannot wait for the third installment in this series. Hats off to Diane Peterfreund because she is an author with mad writing skills. MAD.Check out this series. You WILL NOT regret it!
sithereandread on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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.
francescadefreitas on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I had a hard time catching up with this, it has been some time since I read the first book. Most of the characters and previous plot points were so hazy I had a hard time following some of the character development in this story. And the ending felt abrupt, as if there was much more story to tell, but the writer ran out of time. I'd still read another volume if there is one, but this wasn't as much fun as the first book.
PureImagination on LibraryThing 8 months ago
You know when you read the first book in a new series and completely love it because it's original and so well written? Then you wait a very, very long year for the sequel only to be disappointed? I call that the sequel syndrome, and I'm happy to say that Ascendant did not have it! I loved this book even more than the first one! Really how can you possibly go wrong with killer unicorns?This book is almost 400 pages and so much happens in those pages! There is a lot of information and action, but it never felt rushed! The pacing was spot on! In Ascendant, we learn a lot more about the consequences of hunting the unicorns. Some very important questions were answered, but even more were brought up. I'm dying, dying for the third book!Astrid isn't just some high school girl shipped off to Italy to hunt unicorns anymore. No, now she is a warrior. She has the scares and the courage to back that up. In this book she is faced with a lot of choices and I think she handled them well! I really love Astrid as a main character, she's strong and confident, but not pig-headed. I love that Peterfreund doesn't cut any corners to make things easy for her characters. This isn't a fluffy story about pretty unicorns! At times things even seem a little hopeless for these characters.The romance was definitely not in the forefront of this book. Actually, it was almost nonexistent but, it worked perfectly for this story! I can already tell that this series is going to be on my favorites list. It's extraordinarily original and engaging. I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to see what Peterfreund has in store for us in the next installment! If you haven't read Rampant I suggest you do so. Quickly!
carriehh on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I loved that this sequel did not disappoint after Rampant, the first in the series (trilogy? not sure what the plan is...). Peterfreund's premise of killer unicorns and the girls who slay them is wonderfully original and her writing lives up to the story itself.This was one of those books where the ending leaves me dying to read more. Ascendant is a stimulating tale that adds a new variation to the YA fantasy genre.
callmecayce on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I love this series and I cannot wait for the second book. I thought Ascendant was actually better than the first book, which I liked a lot as well. I found the plot to be strong and instead of feeling like I was reading a middle book in a series, I felt it could hold it's own. I found the side plot with Gio and Astrid to be sweet and sad, and surprisingly realistic. I hope that Peterfreund can sort them out, but if not, I don't mind, because I like what she's done so far.
PhoebeReading on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Ascendant is a rare breed even among unicorns--a sequel that improves on the first volume's vision.Everything that worked well in Rampant is present here: a small army of well-developed characters, a strong voice that's never grating, an absolutely fearless heroine who is nevertheless absolutely human, a fascinating mythology. But rather than defaulting to formula, as many sequels do (Catching Fire and Pretties come most immediately to mind), Ascendant spins an entirely new story. And, while some of the story elements present--namely, the introduction of a love triangle--have become old hat in YA lately, Diana Peterfreund spins even this in a new way, offering no easy, or obvious answers.Ascendant continues the story of sixteen-year-old Astrid Llewelyn, who was forced to abandon her life as a normal teenage girl when she discovered that she has the power to tame the killer unicorns which have recently (and bloodily) revealed themselves to humanity. At the beginning of the novel, she's well-established in a cloister full of virginal teenage huntresses, who have been grappling, variously, with boredom, with a mysterious power-dampening illness, and with their developing identities as warriors.The battle scenes are gorgeously written and vividly described; they held my interest and I'm not even normally a fan of action sequences! Peterfreund weaves a story of girl warriors that easily rises to Buffy-like levels. But unlike Buffy, there's no weird sexualization or male gaze here. Astrid and the other hunters are strong and fierce, but battle has a very clear effect on both their bodies and psyches. The question of their power, of retaining it and remaining, still, undeniably female even if not traditionally feminine, was a core theme in Rampant and becomes even more central here.The unicorn mythology is also further developed in this volume. Ascendant opens with a description of the unicorn tapestries, and we get a new unicorn species whose appearance and abilities are nicely described. We're introduced to these "einhorns" as Astrid departs from her cloister in Rome to seek new employment at a scenic French retreat. I wasn't expecting this scene shift, but it was a pleasant surprise--Peterfreund's vision of Europe is a bit rosy and cliche, perhaps, but it's exactly what you want to find in the story of a worldly unicorn hunter.In France, Astrid's moral quandaries become even more perplexing. She's employed by the wife of her former enemy, who treats her like a beloved child in exchange for Astrid's help in controlling the captive einhorns so that they can be used for some unsavory animal testing. Meanwhile, her boyfriend Giovanni is missing in action, and her slightly sleazy, but still sexy, ex has made a reappearance. Most YA love triangles tend toward the obvious: deep down, we know who Katniss or Bella will choose. But I never felt like either of these options were really a certainty--and both choices have their very believable drawbacks. I mean, as cute as Giovanni sounds, the dude really is conspicuously absent for most of the novel. And really, since he's eighteen-year-old in a long distance relationship, I'm not sure if I would buy the sort of dogged monogamy you usually get in YA fantasy.And Ascendant really isn't most YA fantasy--it's grounded, almost entirely believable (except, maybe, still, for Astrid's mother, who remains annoying and one-note, though luckily she hardly figures in this story), and it takes the sexual and moral questions it raises seriously. And it's shocking--there was a twist here that I genuinely didn't see coming, but that was still clearly a believable episode in Astrid's development as a warrior. Peterfreund also seems to genuinely love the unicorn mythology she's working with. With some writers, you get a feeling that they approach their paranormal subject matter with a little bit of embarrassment. Peterfreund doesn't--she emb
titania86 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Astrid Llewelyn is a reluctant unicorn hunter. There aren't very many due to the fact that only descendants of Alexander the Great that are virgins are eligible for the task. Recruitment has been slow since many potential hunters make themselves ineligible for the job to avoid the danger that is being advertised in the news, mostly by Astrid's attention seeking mother. Astrid lives in a nunnery in Italy with her fellow hunters. She would rather be in a lab, trying to find a way to replicate the Remedy, a powerful cure for poisons and sickness. An opportunity arrises for her to continue her education when Gordian Pharmaceuticals, now led by Isabeau Jaeger, offers her a position guarding a herd of einhorns as well as tutoring, new clothes, a room in a mansion, and a way out of putting her life in danger every day. She accepts the job, but it's not as easy as it seems. Her ex-boyfriend, Brandt, is around her all the time, distracting her from Giovanni, her boyfriend going to school in New York. She also finds that her work with the einhorns isn't so easy when experiments are done on them as she grows to know and like them. Should she walk away and not be involved with the torture of these animals? Is it any different from killing them like she's been doing? I was afraid that Ascendant would be a lackluster sequel to Rampant because the first book was so dynamic and compelling that maybe it was too hard to follow up with something better. I was pleasantly surprised and proven to be wrong. Ascendant turned out to be almost as good as the first. It has much more moral complexity than the first book. On one hand, unicorns are violent, wild animals that attack and kill humans. Unicorn hunters are people's only protection. On the other hand, unicorns are an endangered species and, as with all animals, they are aggressive because they feel threatened. There is also the added issue of animal testing and at what point is it considered unnecessary torture. The first book pretty much stayed in Italy and the cloister where Astrid lives. This book widens that view to other countries and gives a nice look at how killer unicorns are effecting the rest of the world. Instead of being mocked or ignored, the hunters are finally being taken seriously after people witness the devastation that can happen when the creatures go unchecked. I also like the change of scenery to France with Gordian Pharmaceuticals. Astrid is an excellent, strong female protagonist. Even though she makes mistakes that sometimes end up hurting her friends, she is still a sympathetic and relatable character. Although she is physically strong, she is also intelligent and has ambitions beyond slaying unicorns. One of my favorite things about her is that even though she's a peaceful person, she feels that it's her obligation to stay a hunter and fight to save human lives. It's easy to choose the selfish route, but Astrid stays a hunter despite her doubts. After reading books like Hush, Hush, Fallen, and Nightshade, it's refreshing to read a book about a girl who isn't defined by her relationship with a man and doesn't let men overpower her. The pacing of the first half is a bit slow, with a lot of Astrid's internal struggle to figure out who to trust and what is right and wrong. It was still enjoyable to read, but it went on a little bit too long for me. About three quarters through the book, a bombshell is dropped that really shocked me. After that I devoured the rest of the book quickly and I'm eager to read more. I've heard that a third book isn't planned at the moment, but I really really hope that another one gets written because I need to know what happens next. I highly recommend this series to anyone.
STACYatUFI on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I has a hard time getting threw the first half of the book, Im not sure why I just couldn't seem to get into it. After the big plot turn I was glues to the pages. I sure hope that Diana Peterfreund does write the third book cause this one just doesn't end the series, there is much more that needs to be written in my opinion.
MissHavoc on LibraryThing 8 months ago
First I just want to rant a little about how there ISN'T GOING TO BE A THIRD BOOK! At least not anytime soon. Which really upset me 'cause I love me some Killer Unicorns! That also had to bring Ascendant down to a 4 star, because if this is how it just isn't enough. I think we need to start a petition so that we can get some more Killer Unicorns!OK, on to the review! Loved it! Want to give it 5 stars, but really, if this is how it ends, NOTHING is resolved! (*frustrated growl*) Astrid is once again a kick-ass unicorn hunter living as a nun, and killing ravenous/poisonous/"wants to eat you" unicorns.She has to deal with a lot in this book and at times it can be a little slow. And at times it can be a little frustrating. I found myself shaking the book like I could shake some sense into her. Without being spoilery, she has some tough choices ahead of her and she handles MOST of them very well. The last half of the book really threw me, but I liked it. I feel really bad for Astrid and hope everything works out.Please, Please, PLEASE can we get another book? Just one more? I just want to know how it all ENDS!If you loved Rampant, which I'm sure you did, then you will LOVE Ascendant. How could you not, it's freaking Killer Unicorns!OK, I'm done.
booksandwine on LibraryThing 8 months ago
As much as I would love to write a full-review of Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund, there's still a lot of months until it is out, so I think it's more prudent to give a quick and dirty mini-review, and NO, not that kind of dirty.Ascendant is a direct sequel to the super-awesome Rampant, which I actually really enjoyed. With Ascendant, the intros and exposition is pretty much out of the way so the book gets right on down to business. There is absolutely more sexual tension, more unicorns, more action, and a lot of moral dilemma. I loved it! What was so cool is how Peterfreund made her events grey areas. By this I mean things were taken out of a black and white context and given complexity and layers. I guess it's awesome how we get to see two sides of a coin.I actually enjoyed Ascendant way more than Rampant. I thought Astrid really came into her own. Confession corner: After I finished I really had trouble finding a book to read. I mean, what'll measure up to that kind of awesome?And this is the part where I frantically beg for another book in Astrid's world. Seriously, I have a jonesing for more killer unicorns.
ethel55 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
In case you missed Rampant, unicorns have absolutely nothing to do with their myth of rainbows, smurfs and pixie dust. Unicorns are carnivores and can range in size from an goat to an elephant. Astrid Llewelyn is descended from a line of unicorn hunters. Now, several months after the discovery of the killer unicorns, she and the other girls at the Cloisters in Rome continue to go on hunting trips to eradicate these beasts. Funding is sketchy and when Astrid is asked to work at Gordian Pharmecuticals, (they're doing testing on unicorns to help find the Remedy), the money for the greater good is too great to turn down. As the world becomes more aware of these creatures, animal protesters and even Astrid's cousin Phil become concerned with the preservation of the species. I just buy the whole premise so easily because Peterfreund is such a great storyteller. The characters and situations are well thought out and build on one another perfectly. Astrid's internal conflicts and growing awareness of the magic between her and the unicorns is wonderful.
gubry on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Despite liking Rampant, I had a hard time getting into Ascendant which made me sad, I have to say. While I did manage to read through Ascendant, it was a very slow journey. I do wish I could have liked this book better. Either way, despite all this, hopefully there will be a third book to this series, because if there is not, then this ruin my mood about the series because there were so many unanswered questions left. But it's a good thing that this may not be true, which I am pretty relieved by. But I'm still worried though.Astrid really didn't bother me in this book as much, it was probably toward the end I did, but it was a small amount compared to what I did feel like in Rampant. The unicorns, were, as usual, unlike the unicorns that appear with rainbows and sparkly horns. Which is something you already know since if you'd read the series. Other than that, I think you should read this if you haven't, and if you hadn't read Rampant yet, then go read Rampant first. It's a great series despite me not getting into Ascendant.
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will there be a third
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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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