An absorbing new look at a familiar tale.

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SECOND STAR

This retelling of Peter Pan set in the surfing community makes some of its own magic.

Wendy Darling, just out of high school, can’t forget her twin 16-year-old brothers, John and Michael, who disappeared nine months ago. Police finally find their damaged surfboards, which convinces their parents that they must be dead, but Wendy can’t believe it. Unable to deal with the grief, she becomes determined to find them and stumbles upon an almost-magical beach, with pure white sand and endless, perfect waves. There she meets Pete, who gives her a surfing lesson that feels like flying. Pete lives with his friends, including the jealous Belle, in an abandoned home on the nearby cliff, feeding them by theft. Living in another house on the cliff is Jas, Pete’s former friend, who has become a dealer in “fairy dust” and now poses a serious threat. Convinced Jas knows where her brothers went, Wendy crashes a party at his house, after which Jas teams up with her to try to find the missing boys. Sheinmel works her ambiguous fantasy with skill, staying mostly within the framework of the Peter Pan story until she pairs up Jas and Wendy. Readers familiar with the source will appreciate it most, but there’s enough meat to sustain those who are not; abundant emphasis on surfing lends the story a distinct atmosphere.

An absorbing new look at a familiar tale. (Mystery. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-38267-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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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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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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