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This engrossing installment moves a series about a gay teen in a promising, mature direction.

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This fourth volume of a YA series chronicles a sweet, queer teen coming-of-age in Boston.

As Roamer’s story begins, his narrator and protagonist, RV, finds himself starting a summer that already feels different and slightly off from previous ones. It seems as if all the people in the high school student’s life are facing major problems that affect their moods. (Even Joe from Joe’s Pizza does not seem his usual cheery self.) Following the football accident at the end of Why Can’t Relationships Be Like Pizza? (2021), RV’s best friend—and crush—Bobby is struggling to recover from the physical and cognitive effects of his head injury with such tenacity that he is actually scaring the protagonist. At the same time, both RV’s friend Mark and his mentor and confidant, Mr. Aniso, are also preoccupied by upsetting events in their families. It feels as if there’s not much fun to be had as RV begins a summer job at the multiplex. But the new gig introduces him to the gregarious and flirtatious Italian American Matteo. RV soon embarks on his first “official” dates with a boy and realizes he has to figure out what that means for his other friendships, his family, and his future—all while trying to learn to drive. Some of the more adult themes, like homophobia, sex, and identity, which were largely on the periphery in the previous volumes, have started to directly affect RV, making for a much more engaging narrative. (Bobby’s difficulty coping with his new disabilities is the most complex and realistic subplot yet.) Roamer’s teenagers still come off as too formal and polite with one another to be believable at times. But just like its main character, the series has shown real progress and moved toward a more serious look at the lives of today’s queer young people.

This engrossing installment moves a series about a gay teen in a promising, mature direction.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64890-346-5

Page Count: 247

Publisher: NineStar Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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