A compelling debut for teens from adult novelist Portes (Hick, 2007, etc.).

ANATOMY OF A MISFIT

Anika Dragomir, the third most popular girl at her high school in 1980s Nebraska, is pursued by two different boys, both off-limits to her, in a romance filled with seriously funny dark humor and tragedy.

When, toward the end of this unconventional novel, Anika realizes that she may have inherited her tendency toward mental imbalance from her loving and smart but eccentric mother, it’s an epiphany for her. It might not be similarly revelatory for readers, given the first-person window they’ve been given into her thoughts throughout. Nevertheless, Anika will already have won most of them over, even in the face of some questionable moral lapses, such as dosing her (albeit obnoxious and, it turns out, racist) boss’s coffee with Valium and pilfering money from the register. She worries that, inside, she’s “spider soup,” but it’s clear that Anika’s a good soul, though she’s terrified of her supposed friend, the most popular girl in school. This fear is the reason that she stays quiet about her developing relationships with both reformed outcast Logan, who deals with a paralyzing, sad home life, and the wildly charismatic but possible player Jared. Chapters interspersed that describe Anika pedaling furiously on her bike toward a clearly horrific outcome will brace readers from the start, but this foreshadowing does little to soften the emotional punch of the conclusion.

A compelling debut for teens from adult novelist Portes (Hick, 2007, etc.). (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-231364-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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In the end, it’s just another violent dystopian series opener for all its yellow-brick veneer, but it’s a whole lot more fun...

DOROTHY MUST DIE

When a cyclone deposits a 21st-century Kansas teen in Oz, she and readers discover there’ve been some changes made.

Dirt-poor “Salvation Amy” Gumm lives in a trailer park, effectively parenting her alcoholic mom (her dad ran off years ago), who seems to care more about her pet rat, Star, than her daughter. That doesn’t mean Amy is eager to be in Oz, particularly this Oz. Tyrannized by a megalomaniacal Dorothy and mined of its magic, it’s a dystopian distortion of the paradise Baum and MGM depicted. In short order, Amy breaks the wholly capricious laws and is thrown into a cell in the Emerald City with only Star for company. There, she’s visited first by the mysterious but sympathetic Pete and then by the witch Mombi, who breaks her out and takes her to the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked (among whom is the very hot Nox). Amy may well be the salvation of Oz—only someone from the Other Place can take Dorothy down. Paige has clearly had the time of her life with this reboot, taking a dystopian-romance template and laying it over Oz. Readers of Baum’s books will take special delight in seeing new twists on the old characters, and they will greet the surprise climactic turnabout with the smugness of insiders.

In the end, it’s just another violent dystopian series opener for all its yellow-brick veneer, but it’s a whole lot more fun than many of its ilk. (Dystopian fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-228067-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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With appeal to cynics and romantics alike, this profound exploration of life and love tempers harsh realities with the...

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THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR

Natasha and Daniel meet, get existential, and fall in love during 12 intense hours in New York City.

Natasha believes in science and facts, things she can quantify. Fact: undocumented immigrants in the U.S., her family is being deported to Jamaica in a matter of hours. Daniel’s a poet who believes in love, something that can’t be explained. Fact: his parents, Korean immigrants, expect him to attend an Ivy League school and become an M.D. When Natasha and Daniel meet, Natasha’s understandably distracted—and doesn’t want to be distracted by Daniel. Daniel feels what in Japanese is called koi no yokan, “the feeling when you meet someone that you’re going to fall in love with them.” The narrative alternates between the pair, their first-person accounts punctuated by musings that include compelling character histories. Daniel—sure they’re meant to be—is determined to get Natasha to fall in love with him (using a scientific list). Meanwhile, Natasha desperately attempts to forestall her family’s deportation and, despite herself, begins to fall for sweet, disarmingly earnest Daniel. This could be a sappy, saccharine story of love conquering all, but Yoon’s lush prose chronicles an authentic romance that’s also a meditation on family, immigration, and fate.

With appeal to cynics and romantics alike, this profound exploration of life and love tempers harsh realities with the beauty of hope in a way that is both deeply moving and satisfying. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-49668-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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