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An absolute bop; Khorram’s best yet.

A boy band’s gay megastar struggles under public scrutiny.

Canadian boy band Kiss & Tell may have started out as a joke, but the five teens’ 2022 multicity tour is no laughing matter. While their first show brings feelings of euphoria, the spotlight shines a little too brightly on Hunter Drake when his ex-boyfriend posts their sexts on social media. The fans react negatively, prompting The Label to quickly revamp Hunter’s image with an updated wardrobe. The Label also plays matchmaker, suggesting a new beau: recently out Iranian American Kaivan Parvani from Kiss & Tell’s boy-band opener, PAR-K. Sparks fly, and the two boys decide to date for real. As Hunter, who is White, spends more time with Kaivan and less working on Kiss & Tell’s pivotal third album, tensions build among the band. Can they make it until the end of the tour? This is a love letter to boy bands, complete with lyrics and chord progressions that lend a sense of joyous authenticity. Combining first-person narrative with fictional interviews, think pieces, fan fiction, and more, the author effectively encapsulates the ecosystem of celebrity and fandom—and cultivates a strong, contemporary social message. Hunter’s myopic focus on his own queerness and objectification in the music industry opens the door for important conversations about the impact of identity, particularly as other members of the ethnically diverse band engage with him in ways that cleverly complicate readers’ reactions.

An absolute bop; Khorram’s best yet. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-32526-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2022

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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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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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