It’s hard to get invested in a love story when one of the partners is an unknowable black hole

HOW TO DISAPPEAR

Two teens are set on a collision course with sexy results.

Nicolette Holland is on the run. She’s changed her name and her hair and fully intends to disappear as fast as possible. Jack Manx, son of a mob big shot, is blackmailed into finding Nicolette and making sure no one else does. The circumstances revolving around Nicolette’s importance are a bit blurry: Jack is told she murdered a girl connected to a powerful crime boss, but Nicolette doesn’t act like a murderer, and the police aren’t on her tail. The story unfolds with alternating chapters switching between Jack’s and Nicolette’s present-tense accounts, but the different perspectives offer little to the narrative. There are no tense cat-and-mouse sequences here; Jack just finds his mark with little trouble. When the pair cross paths there’s a sexual attraction that promises to give emotional texture to the mob drama, but each character is so guarded that little genuine heat arises. Jack and Nicolette are manic in their moods, going from loving to hating and back to loving each other, sometimes within the span of one or two pages. Neither character is particularly engaging: Jack is a stereotypical bad boy with a heart of gold, and the mysterious nature of Nicolette’s past crime keeps her at arm’s length.

It’s hard to get invested in a love story when one of the partners is an unknowable black hole . (Thriller. 14-16)

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4393-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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It’s imaginative enough, but it lacks the convincing philosophical worldbuilding essential to successful fantasy.

THE TEMPLE OF DOUBT

From the Temple of Doubt series , Vol. 1

A fantasy series opener pits adolescent angst against an all-powerful religion.

Living in Port Sapphire, on the island of New Meridian in the world of Kuldor, almost-16-year-old Hadara chafes under the tenets of a religion headed by the god Nihil that teaches that magic is superior to anything in nature. Since Hadara and her mother continue the passed-down-in-the-female-line family business of concocting healing potions from plants, the two are regarded with suspicion even as their services are sought out by townspeople. When an object falls from the sky into the marsh, Azwans (mages of Nihil) and their oversized Feroxi guards arrive to investigate, complicating things for Hadara and her family, not least because Hadara begins to have feelings for one of the guards. Although Hadara is a delightfully pert narrator, the story’s foremost tension—her subversive doubt of Nihil’s tenets—fails to reach its full potential because the religious concepts are not convincingly clear enough to weave themselves inextricably into the story. Levy shines brightest in her potent descriptions of settings and her imaginative scenes. Continuity, however, is a recurring problem. Among other lapses, the first two chapters seem to be two separate beginnings.

It’s imaginative enough, but it lacks the convincing philosophical worldbuilding essential to successful fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63220-427-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Forgettable. (Fiction. 14-16)

HIT

A dual-narrator novel explores the concept of forgiveness.

Budding poet Sarah is torn between two colleges: Mills, which has offered her a full scholarship, and the University of Washington, whose only appeal is Mr. Haddings. A grad student and poet-in-residence at her school, the charismatic Haddings has Sarah considering a change of plans, to the dismay of Sarah’s controlling mother. Haddings knows he needs to keep the relationship professional, but he’s having a hard time with that. Then, in a moment of distraction, Haddings hits Sarah with his car. Over the next three days, Sarah will cope with the pain, the accident and her worries about her future, while her family—oblivious father, brittle mother and immature brother—and her best friend try to help her. Haddings copes with his crushing guilt, usually making choices that make everything worse. Straining credulity, both Sarah and Haddings wonder if there might be a chance for them still, when the more important question is whether they can ever forgive. Plot events are sequenced poorly and depend far too much on coincidence for their effect; the dual narrative does not provide substantial additional insight, making it feel contrived as well. Stilted dialogue makes characters feel flat, particularly Sarah’s brother.

Forgettable. (Fiction. 14-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-310-7295-0-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blink

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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