RADIO SILENCE

Two teens connect through a mysterious podcast in this sophomore effort by British author Oseman (Solitaire, 2015).

Frances Janvier is a 17-year-old British-Ethiopian head girl who is so driven to get into Cambridge that she mostly forgoes friendships for schoolwork. Her only self-indulgence is listening to and creating fan art for the podcast Universe City, “a…show about a suit-wearing student detective looking for a way to escape a sci-fi, monster-infested university.” Aled Last is a quiet white boy who identifies as “partly asexual.” When Frances discovers that Aled is the secret creator of Universe City, the two embark on a passionate, platonic relationship based on their joint love of pop culture. Their bond is complicated by Aled’s controlling mother and by Frances’ previous crush on Aled’s twin sister, Carys, who ran away last year and disappeared. When Aled’s identity is accidently leaked to the Universe City fandom, he severs his relationship with Frances, leaving her questioning her Cambridge goals and determined to win back his affection, no matter what the cost. Frances’ narration is keenly intelligent; she takes mordant pleasure in using an Indian friend’s ID to get into a club despite the fact they look nothing alike: “Gotta love white people.” Though the social-media–suffused plot occasionally lags, the main characters’ realistic relationship accurately depicts current issues of gender, race, and class.

A smart, timely outing. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-233571-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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A sweet, undemanding summer read.

SUNKISSED

The summer before her senior year, 17-year-old Avery unexpectedly finds romance on a family vacation.

Avery’s family spends their summers away from Los Angeles, enjoying the outdoors; this year it will be two months at a remote resort in the California woods. Her 15-year-old sister, Lauren, an outgoing video blogger, is distraught by the camp’s lack of internet access while go-with-the-flow Avery is just hoping for no drama, upset after having found out her best friend kissed her ex-boyfriend. An initial miscommunication makes things tense with handsome camp staff member Brooks—until Avery agrees to help him write songs for a band competition in exchange for his helping her step out of her comfort zone. Of course, staff aren’t supposed to fraternize with campers, which leads to much sneaking around, though Avery and her sister attend several staff parties thanks to befriending lifeguard Maricela and drummer Kai. Avery learns to find her voice, both metaphorically—she feels her parents don’t take her seriously—and literally, as she must overcome her stage fright when asked to step in for the vocalist in Brooks’ band when they compete in the festival. Avery’s complicated relationship with her family feels underdeveloped, though the love story with Brooks hits all the right notes. Fans of West will enjoy this watered-down Dirty Dancing tale, with its swoony romance and uncomplicated plot. Most characters are White; Maricela is implied Latinx, and Kai is Polynesian.

A sweet, undemanding summer read. (Romance. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17626-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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