Though the spotlight on the political stage overpowers Anglet’s personal dramas at points, fans of the series will be eager...



From the Steeplejack series , Vol. 3

When her employer is accused of assassinating the prime minister of Bar-Selehm, Anglet Sutonga is determined to clear his name. But more than just Willinghouse’s life hangs in the balance in this third installment of Hartley’s Steeplejack series.

As readers have grown to expect, the author addresses the impact of systemic racism and oppression in Bar-Selehm head-on and without euphemism. In the power vacuum, the far-right and centrist parties form a coalition under a white supremacist leader who immediately curtails the rights of the city’s black- and brown-skinned populations. Anglet and her associates are thrust into the center of the social upheaval that strives to pull the city back from the brink and toward justice. The complexity of the forces at work leave Anglet stuck and frustrated more often than in the previous books. Heart-pounding Anglet-attacked-by-animals scenes keep the plot from slowing down, and the action sequences are among the most emotional moments. Vulnerability is difficult for Anglet, especially with personal and political tensions rising, and many in her circle also mask their emotions. Some readers may be disappointed at having to deconstruct entire relationships from the subtext of terse nods and averted glances.

Though the spotlight on the political stage overpowers Anglet’s personal dramas at points, fans of the series will be eager for more. (Mystery/fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7653-8815-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality.


Two teenage girls—Lena and Campbell—come together following a football game night gone wrong.

Campbell, who is white and new to Atlanta, now attends the school where Lena, who is black, is a queen bee. At a game between McPherson High and their rival, a racist slur leads to fights, and shots are fired. The unlikely pair are thrown together as they try to escape the dangers on campus only to find things are even more perilous on the outside; a police blockade forces them to walk through a dangerous neighborhood toward home. En route, a peaceful protest turns into rioting, and the presence of police sets off a clash with protestors with gruesome consequences. The book attempts to tackle racial injustice in America by offering two contrasting viewpoints via narrators of different races. However, it portrays black characters as violent and criminal and the white ones as excusably ignorant and subtly racist, seemingly redeemed by moments when they pause to consider their privileges and biases. Unresolved story arcs, underdeveloped characters, and a jumpy plot that tries to pack too much into too small a space leave the story lacking. This is not a story of friendship but of how trauma can forge a bond—albeit a weak and questionable one—if only for a night.

An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality. (Fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7889-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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