A satisfying conclusion to an intriguing duet

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THE REVOLUTION OF IVY

From the Book of Ivy series , Vol. 2

In this second book of a post-apocalyptic duology, Ivy braves the world beyond the guarded fence surrounding her home, Westfall.

In The Book of Ivy (2014), 16-year-old Ivy Westfall fell in love with Bishop Lattimer—the man her family wanted her to murder. This sequel begins after Ivy is forced into the wilderness. Though she has few survival skills, she fights off an attack from Mark Laird, the exiled psychopath from the first book. Severely injured, Ivy travels as far as she can before collapsing and being aided by residents of a small, self-sufficient community. Despite their help, Ivy’s not sure if she can trust them after she realizes they know Mark. When Bishop shows up, Ivy must also confront her fears of vulnerability. Shocking news from Westfall galvanizes Ivy to return with a bold plan. In the first book, Ivy’s central problem was loyalty; here, it’s trust, which isn’t as compelling: few must decide between murdering a husband and obeying family, but it’s not unusual to fear disclosure and intimacy. That aside, Engel makes good use of her setting; the fight for survival on the cusp of winter stokes the sense of danger in a way that matches Ivy’s roiling feelings, and the love story moves with the slow-growing heat that Ivy needs.

A satisfying conclusion to an intriguing duet . (Post-apocalyptic adventure. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63375-115-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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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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