A hopeless muddle depressingly light on credible elements or nuanced characters.

UNDYING

From the Unearthed series , Vol. 2

In this companion and conclusion to the duology that began with Unearthed (2018), two teenagers discover shocking secrets about Earth’s supposedly alien invaders.

Leaving huge, flapping holes in their story’s internal logic, Kaufman (Elementals: Ice Wolves, 2018, etc.) and Spooner (co-author: Unearthed, 2018, etc.) bring brainy Jules and action-oriented Mia back to Earth and, to give them further opportunities for steamy if chaste snogging, send them on a long road trip from Catalonia to Prague with Jules’ flamboyantly gay cousin, Neal. Meanwhile the advance guard of the Undying, all of whom inexplicably look like brown-skinned human teenagers, touches off the invasion by poisoning the water of select cities with a toxin that affects residents: “Like they’ve…regressed or something, like they’re Neanderthals.” (A concurrent plan to build portals on the surface for Undying troops to march through just…floats away in the press of events.) In a severely misguided effort to bring clarity to all this, the authors eventually lock the main characters in a room with Dex, an invader with a secret, to unpack the backstory. By the end, the course of true love has run far more smoothly than the storyline. Jules is black and English, and Mia is white and American.

A hopeless muddle depressingly light on credible elements or nuanced characters. (Science fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4847-5556-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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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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