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A first in interspecies love stories? (Romance. 14-18)

Never say never.

He’s hot. He’s in a band. Every girl wants him. He has claws, wings, and a beak. He can also fly. When Pyke, the school’s first interspecies transfer student, walks through the doors of Vista View High, student-body chair Shiels, who normally has it all together, goes bonkers (a mild understatement). Pyke’s appearance invigorates everyone. He can catch a spiraling football pass like no one else. He can turn a school dance party into a whirling, orgiastic riot. He can turn Shiels’ nose the same tone of purple as his skin with some bump-and-grind dance moves. He can also make her question everything she has ever stood for. Cumyn’s latest (Tilt, 2011, etc.) is certainly good fun, full of fresh new devices (to say the least). However, not only is it hard to swallow, it’s also long-winded. Clocking in at over 400 pages, the plot twists and turns and expands over and over until it completely tries the most patient readers, whose willingness to suspend their disbelief for a story this ridiculous might lapse after the first 250 or so pages. That said, the book is full of hilarious one-liners, straight-on characterizations, some hot sexual tension, and a doofus, headstrong heroine who is all a-flutter and dead set on protecting her prehistoric honey. That makes up for a lot.

A first in interspecies love stories? (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3980-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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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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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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