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TASTING LIGHT

TEN SCIENCE FICTION STORIES TO REWIRE YOUR PERCEPTIONS

A top-notch hard science fiction collection.

A diverse anthology showing hopeful futures imagined through the lens of technology.

Capetta and Roush introduce engaging, thoughtful, beautifully written entries about identity and agency, all unfolding within the bounds of real science. The 10 fully realized stories, many by popular young adult authors, cover a range of topics and include Junauda Petrus-Nasah’s satirical look at White privilege, William Alexander’s romantic interlude in a decrepit space station, and E.C. Myers’ fun take on true crime and the two teens who may or may not have crossed into another dimension. Capetta’s fantastic epistolary tale unfolds across time and space, and there’s even a melancholy graphic short story from Wendy Xu about robots and memory. Friendship, family, and human connection play a role in Elizabeth Bear’s thought-provoking take on avatars, K. Ancrum’s moving story about the relationship between a young teen and an older woman hacker, and Nasuġraq Rainey Hopson’s skillful weaving of elders into a work of Inuit futurism. The anthology celebrates queerness, a variety of gender identities, and the freedom to be oneself, delving into how technology can influence and transform reality as well as be used for the greater good—or to oppress. The modification industry helps a nonbinary teen find their voice in Charlotte Nicole Davis’ poignant opening act, but the same industry is used to subjugate women into losing their voices in A.S. King’s ultimately empowering closing story.

A top-notch hard science fiction collection. (Science fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1938-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: MITeen Press/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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