Readers will consider the invisible tethers that bind us to societal expectations and the connections we’d rather forge in...

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THE CERULEAN

An exploration of feminine power, autonomy, and sexuality.

Nearly 18, Sera has led a protected life in the City Above the Sky, an all-female society connected to a planet via a magic tether. Her race of Ceruleans possess blue hair, blood, and eyes and silvery skin. Sera is chosen to sacrifice herself by jumping off the edge of the City to break the tether so that her people can locate another planet with resources to draw upon. On the planet below, 18-year-old biracial human twins navigate another culture’s social restrictions. Leo, who appreciates women and fashion, takes after their Pelagan mother with his blue eyes and light skin, while Agnes, who is attracted to women (in a homophobic culture) and loves science, resembles their Kaolin father with her brown skin and eyes. The two go on an expedition to collect another specimen for their ruthless father’s popular theatrical freak shows and come across Sera, who never could muster the romantic feelings for girls her society expected, following her crash. Most citizens of Kaolin are brown-skinned, while the Pelagans are predominantly fair-skinned. In places, the text appears to unquestioningly privilege lighter complexions. In alternating narration, Ewing (The Black Key, 2016, etc.) provides intricate, well-explained worldbuilding, slowly unveiling a deeply buried mystery and leaving characters poised for new discoveries.

Readers will consider the invisible tethers that bind us to societal expectations and the connections we’d rather forge in their stead. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-248998-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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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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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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