An action-packed thrill ride and stellar head trip.

GEMINA

From the Illuminae Files series , Vol. 2

Continuing Illuminae’s (2015) story, Kaufman and Kristoff explore what went down on Jump Station Heimdall while the spaceship Hypatia was trying to get there.

This time around, the found-footage–style collage narration (instant messages, radio conversations, video transcripts, diary pages, and the like) is framed as evidence at a tribunal investigating the activities of BeiTech Industries. The station commander’s white teenage daughter, Hanna, and her white drug dealer, Nik, avoid death and capture when a multiracial commando team of BeiTech “auditors” board Heimdall to take over its wormhole (which badly needs maintenance) for a BeiTech drone assault fleet sent to eliminate Kerenza’s witnesses. With lots of sneaking, combat, quick thinking, and the crucial help of Nik’s younger cousin Ella (a quippy, brilliant hacker disabled by a space plague she barely survived), they throw everything they have against their better-armed and -trained assailants. But the drug operation relies on mind-eating, multiheaded, predatory parasites with psychoactive venom, and with the cartel out of action, the carefully tended newborns get loose on the station, and are they ever hungry! Tension snowballs with each new small complication, resulting in a read harder to put down with each page. Despite superficial similarities (protagonists and formatting—not all final art seen) to Illuminae, forward plot motion and surprises right up to the cliffhanger ending keep this its own book.

An action-packed thrill ride and stellar head trip. (Science fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-49915-5

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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