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TWELFTH KNIGHT

A delightful nerd romance.

Viola Reyes is a gamer, a fangirl, and a feminist.

Vi plays tabletop games and massively multiplayer online role-playing games, and she obsessively watches the medieval fantasy TV show War of Thorns. She loves to spend time at Renaissance faires and fan conventions, where she can be herself. Unfortunately, male-dominated fandoms aren’t always welcoming to female-identifying and presenting people. More often than not, Vi is forced to defend herself and her right to exist in fandom circles. She plays as Cesario, a boy, in Twelfth Knight, her current MMORPG, so she can actually enjoy the game rather than battle constant harassment. Meanwhile, Jack “Duke” Orsino is student body president (Vi is the vice president) and high school football royalty. When he seriously injures his knee and is benched for the season, he starts playing Twelfth Knight, too—and DukeOrsino12 encounters Cesario. When the two begin chatting and teaming up within the game, Vi panics and pretends to be her twin brother, Sebastian. This engaging modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night has a genderbending plot that’s a perfect fit for contemporary readers. While some of the allusions will be a bit too on the nose for anyone familiar with the source material (and may make suspending disbelief difficult for some), the slow-burn enemies-to-lovers storyline (and the absence of Twelfth Night’s sinister subplot) more than carry this successful adaptation. Duke is Black, and Vi is cued Latine.

A delightful nerd romance. (dramatis personae) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 28, 2024

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

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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