Ideal for readers searching for queer- and female-driven contemporary fantasy

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THE LOST COAST

A group of queer fledgling witches search for their friend in a small town among the redwoods of Northern California.

The Grays—four tightknit high school friends—cast a spell to draw someone to their town who can help find Imogen, their fifth group member, whose body is present but whose mind is elsewhere. They attract Danny, a Michigan native. The Grays introduce her to magic, and together, they use their personalized abilities to solve the mystery of Imogen’s disappearance. Along the way, Danny starts to feel at home with the group and nurses a crush on one member, Rush—problematic because she has history with Imogen. The Grays’ frank conversations about identity are utterly refreshing and ring true to life. “What word fits in a way that makes you happy at this very moment?” one Gray asks. Danny is queer and white; Rush is fat, queer, and white; Hawthorn is black and bisexual; June is gay and Filipina; Lelia is nonbinary, gray asexual, and white; Imogen is white and dates girls. Short chapters weave a tapestry of past and present of narration from Danny, the Grays, and others. Though arguably fitting with the narrative’s murky, otherworldly atmosphere, Imogen’s disappearance initially lacks context, and the book-spanning hunt to find her deserves more momentum. The positive, gentle depiction of Danny and Rush’s physical relationship offers much-needed representation.

Ideal for readers searching for queer- and female-driven contemporary fantasy . (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0096-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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