RAINBOW BOYS

The lives of three suburban high school students become dramatically entangled in a manner familiar mostly to high-schoolers and soap-opera fans. Jason has a girlfriend (with whom he has sex), but he thinks a lot about male bodies and increasingly questions his sexuality. Kyle is the star of the swimming team who has known for a long time that he’s gay, but he’s still in the closet. Nelson is openly—and flamboyantly—gay. Jason is going steady with Debra; Kyle has a crush on Jason; Nelson has a crush on Kyle. Two of the boys have loving, concerned parents. One comes from a troubled family with an alcoholic father. And those are not nearly all the plots and subplots, all of which more or less get tied up by the end. The chapters rotate among the viewpoints of the three boys, a narrative technique that provides a crystal picture of each character. It also drives home the homophobia at school and the abuse the guys suffer and provides a lot of information about gay sexuality in the same way that Judy Blume’s Forever did for the heterosexual experience. Unlike some earlier novels about homosexuality, the persecution of the three boys is named plainly for what it is—homophobia—and not the hand of a punishing fate. Although marred by occasional melodramatic turns and some contrivance in the ending, this is a fine first effort, thought-provoking and informative for all young adults. The use of profanity and explicit descriptions of sexual activities call for a mature reader. There is a list of advocacy groups at the end, unusual in a novel, but understandable, perhaps necessary, in this one. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-84100-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2001

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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