THE BONELESS MERCIES

In this saga inspired by the ancient tale of “Beowulf” our hero is a 17-year-old death-trader named Frey.

Silver-haired Frey is the leader of a band of Boneless Mercies, women who roam the land bringing relief to the sick and the old. Frey’s sister Mercies are greenish-blond–haired Sea Witch Juniper, markswoman Runa, and reserved, stoic Ovie. The only male, Trigve, is a healer. The life of a Mercy is uneventful; she performs her death work, gets paid, and moves on. Once a deceased Mercy passes out of living memory, she disappears into obscurity. But Frey wants more than that. She wants bards to immortalize her in song. She wants glory, and if she dies seeking it, so be it. Her chance comes when she decides to pursue the legendary Blue Vee beast, a creature that decimates entire villages. Blue Vee’s jarl (king) has lost half his warriors to the beast, but Frey is confident that she and the Mercies can bring the creature down. The monetary reward for doing so will allow them to leave Mercy-killing behind. Narrator and protagonist Frey is quite unusual among female heroes: hungry for glory—bloodthirsty, even—but still likable. These fierce, honorable adolescent female warriors hold their own and break all the rules. Marked by flawless worldbuilding—even though it’s still a man’s world—the book is set in an alternate Scandinavia and assumes a white default.

Wow. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-30706-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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