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LOVEBOAT REUNION

From the Loveboat series

Like a mooncake—sweet, savory, and altogether satisfying.

The antagonists of Loveboat, Taipei (2020) try to shed their old ways and show the world that they have something to offer.

Sophie Ha regrets her poor behavior during the Loveboat program, and she’s determined to be a better person as she starts college at Dartmouth. Familial pressure to marry well caused Sophie to prioritize romantic relationships above all else; now she plans to achieve success through studying AI. No more romance for her—especially not with Xavier Yeh, given their disastrous summer fling and current friendship. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Xavier is forced by his father, the CEO of a Taiwanese business empire, to repeat his senior year of high school. Xavier, who has dyslexia and dysgraphia, must obey in order to gain independence from a family that prioritizes its reputation above all else. A Mid-Autumn Festival celebration in Taipei presents an opportunity for both teens to advance toward their goals, but an accidental group chat message transforms the trip into an extravagant weekend reunion for Loveboat alums. This sequel highlights themes of personal growth and self-acceptance from the perspectives of two characters whose talents are frequently perceived as flaws by those around them. Amid schoolwork, last-minute event planning, and nail-biting family drama, Xavier and Sophie start to recognize their better selves...and also, perhaps, see a second chance at being together. Characters are mostly Taiwanese or Taiwanese American.

Like a mooncake—sweet, savory, and altogether satisfying. (cast of characters, assistive tools for dyslexia and dysgraphia) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-295730-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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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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