Anyone who knows Greek mythology will probably figure out the twist quickly, but this novel is still an enjoyable read.

READ REVIEW

THE LAST ACADEMY

Creating a sense of doom is infinitely more difficult in a novel than in a movie; debut author Applegate makes a worthy attempt.

Camden arrives as a freshman at Lethe Academy, a boarding school in California. On the plane, she meets a creepy man who coincidentally is a trustee at her new school. Named Barnaby Charon, he creates a lot of misgivings within Camden. At least she makes new friends quickly, like Jessie and Nora, plus the glamorous Brynn. Best of all, there’s the charming and completely hot Mark Elliott. Camden might have seemingly random hallucinations, and she doesn’t get along with her roommate, but otherwise things are good at Lethe. When Jessie disappears and no one seems to care—and Barnaby Charon is involved—Camden knows she has to take action. But Camden’s visions are becoming more disturbing, especially what she sees when she visits Mark’s family. For all the questions Camden has, only one person has the answers: Barnaby Charon. At first, unexplained plot events, such as Camden’s going to boarding school in the first place and unusual images, may confuse readers. Yet as the tension mounts, the unanswered questions spur them on.

Anyone who knows Greek mythology will probably figure out the twist quickly, but this novel is still an enjoyable read. (Suspense. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50204-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Point/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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A slow, hazy beginning eventually sharpens before charging into an electric, enchanting end.

A SONG BELOW WATER

Two young women literally and figuratively embody #BlackGirlMagic.

Sixteen and with deep brown skin, Tavia is a siren who uses American Sign Language to push against the mesmerizing call that burns like a fire in her throat and could mean being silenced forever if it is released. Plagued with mysterious body ailments and no knowledge of her biological heritage to inform a diagnosis, light-brown–skinned 16-year-old Effie, Tavia’s sister-by-choice, is haunted by survivor’s guilt after a traumatic childhood incident. Portland, Oregon, provides a memorable setting for Morrow’s solid and intentional unpacking of myths around black people and their aversion to water activities through their stories. Chapters alternating first-person narration between the two protagonists set up Tavia to often be the voice of social justice inquiry, especially regarding prejudice against sirens, who are always black women. Effie’s storyline focuses on a different type of identity exploration as she untangles her complicated family history. Lengthy exposition with confusing plot turns and a reveal of ethnically diverse magical beings and their powers slows the first part of the book. The action picks up toward the middle, rising to create an exciting new contemporary fantasy. In this parallel world, black female empowerment is standing up for yourself and others while simultaneously navigating love, physical and emotional violence, and the responsibility of immense supernatural power.

A slow, hazy beginning eventually sharpens before charging into an electric, enchanting end. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-31532-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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The queer prom romance you didn’t know you needed.

YOU SHOULD SEE ME IN A CROWN

A wallflower runs for prom queen.

After being snubbed by her best friend, Jordan, in favor of his new football friends on the first day of high school, Liz Lighty felt acute shame about being herself and all the things that made her different: her height, being black and queer, and not having enough money. She began wearing her hair pulled back, chose less colorful clothing, and did her best to blend in so no one would notice her. But now, as a senior, Liz has to put herself in the spotlight to secure her future. Because despite doing everything right—excellent grades, solid extracurriculars, and playing first-chair clarinet—she doesn’t win a much-needed scholarship at her dream school. When her brother convinces her that running for prom queen—with its $10,000 scholarship prize—is the answer, she enters the competition. The race for the crown gets complicated when Liz falls for one of the other competitors, Jordan tries to rekindle their friendship, and a friend urges her to change everything about herself in order to win. While the hullabaloo around prom seems far-fetched, the lead-up to the dance is pitch-perfect rom-com. Johnson does an excellent job of portraying the anxiety and internalized self-hatred from being different in a mostly white, affluent small town. Liz and Jordan are black; supporting characters appear white by default.

The queer prom romance you didn’t know you needed. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-50326-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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