More brains than your average zombie novel…and more entrails as well! (Horror. 14 & up)

ZOMBURBIA

Unlike the classic zombie-apocalypse scenario, humanity here hasn’t been completely devastated—in suburbia, life has adapted.

Post–zombie outbreak, people live behind gates or fences, students take a yearly health and hygiene class on the zombie virus, and firearms are commonplace in backpacks and cars. Courtney’s determined to escape the suburbs and attend college in New York—the government hopes the city will be habitable again—but her father will only pay for her college if she goes in-state. To fund her dream, she works at a local burger joint—and sells Vitamin Z (an illegal drug made from zombie brains). Then jock Brandon falls for her, crossing clique lines. Courtney vacillates between her old friends and Brandon’s popular world while hiding her drug dealing. Courtney’s smart and ambitious, and she makes terrible decisions. Comics author Gallardo nails her voice—likable yet self-absorbed. This rough world lends itself to drug dealing, partying, guns-blazing action sequences and unvarnished language, but it occasionally enables the characters’ emotional detachment, resulting in weak motivations for their actions. There’s an additional mystery about some smarter, faster zombies—seemingly left for the sequel despite heavy hints that make the answer seem obvious. Aside from that, the interpersonal drama strikes a comfortable balance with undead action.

More brains than your average zombie novel…and more entrails as well! (Horror. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61773-098-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Kteen

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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A dark and enthralling journey.

VESPERTINE

In a land threatened by violent spirits, a girl with a haunted past unleashes an ancient entity from a holy relic and strikes a deal for the power to save her home.

Ever since the Sorrow, the dead no longer pass on peacefully. Without the intervention of the Clerisy of the Gray Lady, they roam as destructive spirits. Artemisia of Naimes, gifted with the ability to see the spirits, never intends to leave her convent, where the walls protect her from possession and (Lady forbid) social interaction. Her plans crumble when a group of possessed soldiers attack her home. Reluctantly, Artemisia unseals a legendary relic, binding herself to a revenant, an undead being with immense power. Untrained in controlling spirits and desperate to protect her home, she bargains with the revenant to help her. Amid escalating danger and an unfolding mystery, Rogerson unveils a grim and intriguing world with a rich, plot-relevant history inspired by late-medieval France. In addition to the White protagonist, the narration describes several secondary characters with brown skin; the revenant is identified as “it,” while human characters in this world adhere to a gender binary. Artemisia experiences dynamic character growth as her understandings of trauma, history, and morality shift. Although she remains socially avoidant, she learns to value friendship. A satisfying but open-ended resolution demands for the story to continue.

A dark and enthralling journey. (glossary) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7711-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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