An intriguing start with a brave heroine; too bad readers must await the sequel for some real action.

READ REVIEW

THE BOOK OF IVY

From the Book of Ivy series , Vol. 1

In this YA novel set in a post-apocalyptic future, a teenage girl is charged by her family with killing the president’s son—who is also her new husband.

Two generations ago, nuclear war almost destroyed the world. A small town of less than 10,000 survivors was founded by narrator Ivy Westfall’s grandfather, but President Lattimer’s father won the struggle for control. He now rules autocratically rather than heading up the democracy Westfall favored. Criminals are exiled and left to die. To soothe old wounds, the town instituted a tradition: Sons of the winning side marry the daughters of the losers, and vice versa. Now Ivy, 16, must marry Bishop Lattimer—son of the president, who had Ivy’s mother killed. Nervous as any young girl might be about marrying a stranger, Ivy has an additional burden: She has promised her family that she will kill her new husband so as to aid the rebellion. Ivy, outspoken and reckless, soon realizes that Bishop is gentle, thoughtful and guilty of nothing, which presents her with a terrible dilemma: “If I kill Bishop, my family will be in power, but Bishop will be dead and what will I be? A murderer.” When Ivy is given an ultimatum to poison Bishop, she faces a terrible decision. In her debut novel, Engel employs the first-person, present-tense style that’s almost de rigueur in this genre. Together with the emotionally fraught situation—simply having to share a house with a man is unsettling for Ivy—the book has immediacy, and there’s justification for plenty of teenage angst. Ivy is forced to question her family’s motivations as Bishop keeps surprising her, and she surprises herself with her growing feelings for him. The worldbuilding is mostly well-thought-out, with some complicated issues: Westfall lacks resources to make jewelry but can make electronic security systems? The pace becomes slow, too, and it seems as if the real drama is still to come in a planned sequel, which may frustrate some readers.

An intriguing start with a brave heroine; too bad readers must await the sequel for some real action.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1622664658

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 19

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating

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

Did you like this book?

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more