CAREER: Author of juvenile and young adult novels. Works with troubled teens and gang members, Los Angeles, CA.
AWARDS, HONORS: Quick Picks, American Library Association, for "Daughters of the Moon" series.
Drive-By, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.
Party Girl, Knopf (New York, NY), 1998.
"DAUGHTERS OF THE MOON" SERIES
Goddess of the Night, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2000.
Into the Cold Fire, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2000.
Night Shade, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2001.
The Secret Scroll, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2001.
The Sacrifice, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2001.
The Lost One, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2001.
Moon Demon, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2002.
Possession, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2002.
The Choice, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2003.
The Talisman, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2003.
The Prophecy, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2003.
The Becoming, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2004.
"SONS OF THE DARK" SERIES
Barbarian, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2004.
Escape, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2004.
Outcast, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 2005.
ADAPTATIONS: Drive-By was adapted for audiocassette, Recorded Books, 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Lynne Ewing is a screenwriter as well as an author of young-adult fiction. She also works with troubled teens and gangs in Los Angeles, and this led to her first two novels, Drive-By and Party Girl. The former novel is narrated by young Tito, who sees his own older brother, Jimmy, gunned down in a gang-related shooting. Only later does Tito learn that Jimmy was dealing drugs and skimming money from the sales. Now Jimmy's old gang wants that money; they trash the family house as a threat to both Tito and his parents. Repeated attacks force the family to move. Finally Tito's eyes are opened to the grim realities of gang life and he does what he must to protect his family. Critical response to this first novel was generally positive. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly noted that Drive-By "offers distinctly drawn, affecting characters and lots of action." However, this same reviewer also felt that the debut novel "stops just short of evoking a sense of place." Writing in School Library Journal, Jana R. Fine had praise for the "realistic actions and language," though she also criticized what she found to be "minimal" character development. Less guarded in praise was the assessment from a Kirkus Reviews critic, who called the novel "grim, taut . . . ultimately hopeful," and went on to note that the ending "makes its point without belaboring it."
Party Girl, from 1998, is a shorter novel, this time about girls and gang life. Kata and Ana have been best friends since fourth grade. When Ana moved with her family from Mexico to Los Angeles, Kata helped her learn English. Ana returned the favor, helping Kata keep up with schoolwork when she, Kata, had to care for her alcoholic mother. At age fourteen, the two friends escape their lives by entering dance contests under the name "Outrageous Chaos." Meanwhile, Kata draws Ana into her gang life, and after winning the top prize one night, they cross the turf of a rival gang, leading to Ana's death. While Kata vows revenge, the gang that killed Ana are now on the hunt for her.
A contributor for Publishers Weekly found problems with Ewing's second novel, noting that "what begins as a fascinating first-person account . . . rapidly unravels due to undeveloped characters and a dangling story line." Other reviewers found more to like in Party Girl. Miriam Lang Budin, writing in SchoolLibrary Journal, called Kata a survivor because she is "one tough cookie" who "finds in herself the additional capacity to care for others. . . . Ewing makes readers care for Kata and wish her well." Similar praise came from Maeve Visser Knoth in a Horn Book review. Knoth wrote, "Like the characters themselves, the novel is a mix of sophistication and innocence." Knoth also found the ending "gently hopeful." And John Peters, writing in Booklist, found the novel a "nightmarish indictment of Southern California gang culture."
From these gritty, street-savvy novels, Ewing turned her hand to lighter fare in two fantasy series. The first, the "Daughters of the Moon" series, is targeted at teenage girls, while "Sons of the Dark" aims at teenage boys for a readership. Goddess of the Night begins the first series, with Vanessa and best friend Catty learning how to use their magical powers. However, the two have very different opinions about these powers. Catty thinks that her ability to time travel is a wonderful thing, but Vanessa despises her own ability to become invisible. Instead she wants a regular teen life and a date with the good-looking Michael. When Catty goes suddenly missing, however, all such concerns leave Vanessa's mind. With Serena, another friend with the power to read minds, and Jimena, who has premonitions, Vanessa is on the hunt, discovering that she and her friends are, in fact, goddesses, Daughters of the Moon, and that they must do battle with the evil Atrox and his gang that prowl the club scene in Los Angeles.
A contributor to Publishers Weekly found this initial volume in the series a "sexy but lackluster fantasy," yet with "enough affirmations of 'girl power' to please any budding feminist." Lynn Bryant, writing in School Library Journal, noted that Goddess of the Night "provides enough action and lifelike scenarios to appeal to young teens." However, Bryant also hoped that "some of the shallow characterizations and puzzling connections among the girls and their history will be clarified in future installments." The full series expands to a dozen titles as the four girls continue to battle the powers of darkness.
Barbarian, published in 2004, is the first installment in the "Sons of the Dark" series. Here numerous fifteen-year-old-boys in a Los Angeles high school are actually supernatural beings who have traveled through time. Obie, for example, is a Visigoth who must endure the taunts of high school bullies in order to fit in with modern life. His ancient aunt comes forward in time to capture his roommate, Berto, and now Obie must travel back chronologically to save him. A critic for Kirkus Reviews felt that Ewing's writing is stilted in this novel, noting that the author "astonishes with the number of cliches she can pack into a paragraph." Lynn Evarts, though, writing in School Library Journal, praised Ewing for combining "gorgeous guys, runic spells, and time travel in a readable and thrilling way," and prophesied that the author "is set to have another successful series."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 1998, John Peters, review of PartyGirl, p. 1992.
Horn Book, September-October, 1998, Maeve Visser Knoth, review of Party Girl, p. 606.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 1996, review of Drive-By, p. 821; July 15, 2004, review of Barbarian, p. 684.
Publishers Weekly, June 17, 1996, review of Drive-By, p. 66; August 17, 1998, review of Party Girl, p. 74; October 23, 2000, review of Goddess of the Night, p. 76.
School Library Journal, August, 1996, Jana R. Fine, review of Drive-By, pp. 142-143; September, 1998, Miriam Lang Budin, review of Party Girl, p. 200; December, 2000, Lynn Bryant, review of Goddess of the Night, p. 144; September, 2002, Sandra Flowers, review of Drive-By (audiobook), p. 77; October, 2004, Lynn Evarts, review of Barbarian, p. 163.
Fantastic Fiction Web site,http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/ (December 9, 2004), "Lynne Ewing."*