Zadoff’s 16-year-old protagonist saw the life of his father ripped away by a close friend when he was 12. Since then, he’s...

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I AM THE WEAPON

From the The Unknown Assassin series , Vol. 1

An unnamed teen assassin finds himself torn between a girl and his mission.

Zadoff’s 16-year-old protagonist saw the life of his father ripped away by a close friend when he was 12. Since then, he’s been under the employ of “Mother” and “Father,” the heads of an organization that uses children as hired killers. He’s one of the best: He’s professional and always finishes the job smoothly and cleanly without a mess. The killings all have low levels of blood and gore and usually look like accidents so he can escape the scene without any suspicion. When he’s charged with taking out the mayor of New York City, however, things get complicated—especially when he crushes on the mayor’s daughter, who goes to his school. Zadoff’s chapters are short, staccato and to-the-point, mirroring the narrative voice of his protagonist. His paragraphs rarely run over four lines long. His nameless, tough-as-nails lead character has just the right balance of cunning, heart and conscience to win the respect and admiration of many teen readers, even reluctant ones. The plot speeds along seamlessly with plenty of action and drama, and hairpin turns will keep readers guessing; a twist in the end will have them begging for more. Fast, furious and fun.   (This book was originally published as Boy Nobody and later retitled.) (Thriller. 14 & up)

Pub Date: June 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-316-19967-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

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 emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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