Genre fans and haters alike will be irritated and bored.

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THE FANDOM

Cosplay turns all too real for four English teens.

Violet, her besties Alice and Katie, and her younger brother, Nate, attended London’s Comic-Con as rabid fans of The Gallows Dance, the hit YA franchise. But after a freak event transports them into its fictional world, they realize that futuristic dystopias aren’t as much fun as you’d think. To return home, Violet must become the story’s heroine: She has one week to ensnare the dreamy hero, spark a revolution…and die tragically. The hackneyed premise offers plentiful satiric possibilities, notably in frequent jabs at genre tropes and constant allusions to pop culture. Unfortunately, this title tries to have it both ways; The Gallows Dance—endlessly quoted and recapped—appears mawkish and trite yet is presented as genuinely thrilling and oh-so-romantic. Pathologically insecure Violet seems a caricature of both the stereotypical fangirl and the Mary Sue heroine. Her relationships with skeptical Katie and nerdy Nate are charmingly authentic, unlike her toxic “friendship” with shallow Alice. While these main characters are all white, the alternate world’s impossibly dishy love interests and ludicrously evil villains do hint at London’s ethnic diversity. Alas, even Violet’s repetitive countdown to her own death provides little suspense, as the predictable plot twists to an epilogue brim full of blatant sequel bait.

Genre fans and haters alike will be irritated and bored. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-23270-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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