“I am my father’s son,” the protagonist notes early on; this couldn’t be truer—for better and, quite arguably, for worse.

EXILE FROM EDEN

OR, AFTER THE HOLE

A grotesque, post-apocalyptic exploration of story, reality, and adolescent boyhood.

Sixteen years after the end of Grasshopper Jungle (2014), when the Midwest was decimated by an apocalypse of 10-foot praying mantises, a handful of survivors are living in an underground bunker in Iowa. Sixteen-year-old Arek, born in the bunker, is increasingly feeling stifled, particularly by his grandmother, the “SPEAKER OF LAWS in the hole,” and his mother, whose “sadness and anger became a stormy ocean inside the hole, drowning me.” He’s in love with and lusts after his only peer, biracial (Chinese/white) Amelie Sing Brees. When his fathers, Austin and Robby, venture aboveground and don’t return, Arek is determined to seize the moment to explore the wider world and discover what has happened. Arek’s first-person narrative is an intentionally crafted meditation on art, truth, reality, reproduction (both abstract and biological), and meaning-making. The only brown character falls into disturbingly racist tropes: a 12-year-old boy named Breakfast who is “completely wild,” constantly “scratch[ing] his balls,” obsessed with money, hates wearing clothes, and has “wild dreadlocks.” Breakfast’s companion is a chimpanzee named Olive, whom Breakfast is convinced is just a very hairy human girl who never talks. Smith’s (The Size of the Truth, 2019, etc.) trademark portrayal of women characters, which at its most generous can be described as a lack of attention, continues here.

“I am my father’s son,” the protagonist notes early on; this couldn’t be truer—for better and, quite arguably, for worse. (Science fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2223-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s.

GRIS GRIMLY'S FRANKENSTEIN

A slightly abridged graphic version of the classic that will drive off all but the artist’s most inveterate fans.

Admirers of the original should be warned away by veteran horror artist Bernie Wrightson’s introductory comments about Grimly’s “wonderfully sly stylization” and the “twinkle” in his artistic eye. Most general readers will founder on the ensuing floods of tiny faux handwritten script that fill the opening 10 pages of stage-setting correspondence (other lengthy letters throughout are presented in similarly hard-to-read typefaces). The few who reach Victor Frankenstein’s narrative will find it—lightly pruned and, in places, translated into sequences of largely wordless panels—in blocks of varied length interspersed amid sheaves of cramped illustrations with, overall, a sickly, greenish-yellow cast. The latter feature spidery, often skeletal figures that barrel over rough landscapes in rococo, steampunk-style vehicles when not assuming melodramatic poses. Though the rarely seen monster is a properly hard-to-resolve jumble of massive rage and lank hair, Dr. Frankenstein looks like a decayed Lyle Lovett with high cheekbones and an errant, outsized quiff. His doomed bride, Elizabeth, sports a white lock à la Elsa Lanchester, and decorative grotesqueries range from arrangements of bones and skull-faced flowers to bunnies and clownish caricatures.

Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s. (Graphic classic. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-186297-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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