Readers seeking thrillers that contain thoughtful social commentary should look elsewhere

READ REVIEW

RUN, HIDE, FIGHT BACK

A shooting breaks out inside a Portland, Oregon, mall, leaving many people dead and the remaining survivors as hostages of a right-wing American terrorist group with an anti-government agenda.

Six teens successfully hide inside empty shops while the deadly situation unfolds, but soon they must decide whether to remain hidden, run, or fight back. The better-developed characters, who are all white, are wrestler Parker Gray, troubled drug addict Miranda Nash, cancer patient Grace Busby (who sees her mother die in front of her eyes), and ultraconservative conspiracy theorist Cole Bond. Meanwhile, two nonwhite characters—undocumented Mexican immigrant Javier Ramirez and the Somali American hijabi Amina Abdi—remain superficial stereotypes. Told in real time as it happens, the novel starts with alternating viewpoint chapters from all the teenagers, yet, bafflingly, two, Parker and Miranda, take over early on while the other four narrators’ perspectives disappear. Ending with one of its heroes troublingly wondering whether the terrorists may have made some valid points in terms of their beliefs, if not their methods, this fast-paced yet lackluster thriller fails to impress. The addition of a couple of twists to the story may lead readers to question whether mass shootings should ever be presented as entertainment.

Readers seeking thrillers that contain thoughtful social commentary should look elsewhere . (Thriller. 15-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62779-589-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues...

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

He’s in remission from the osteosarcoma that took one of his legs. She’s fighting the brown fluid in her lungs caused by tumors. Both know that their time is limited.

Sparks fly when Hazel Grace Lancaster spies Augustus “Gus” Waters checking her out across the room in a group-therapy session for teens living with cancer. He’s a gorgeous, confident, intelligent amputee who always loses video games because he tries to save everyone. She’s smart, snarky and 16; she goes to community college and jokingly calls Peter Van Houten, the author of her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, her only friend besides her parents. He asks her over, and they swap novels. He agrees to read the Van Houten and she agrees to read his—based on his favorite bloodbath-filled video game. The two become connected at the hip, and what follows is a smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance. From their trip to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive Van Houten to their hilariously flirty repartee, readers will swoon on nearly every page. Green’s signature style shines: His carefully structured dialogue and razor-sharp characters brim with genuine intellect, humor and desire. He takes on Big Questions that might feel heavy-handed in the words of any other author: What do oblivion and living mean? Then he deftly parries them with humor: “My nostalgia is so extreme that I am capable of missing a swing my butt never actually touched.” Dog-earing of pages will no doubt ensue.

Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues to make it through Hazel and Gus’ poignant journey. (Fiction. 15 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-525-47881-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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Only marginally intriguing.

REDEMPTION PREP

In a remote part of Utah, in a “temple of excellence,” the best of the best are recruited to nurture their talents.

Redemption Preparatory is a cross between the Vatican and a top-secret research facility: The school is rooted in Christian ideology (but very few students are Christian), Mass is compulsory, cameras capture everything, and “maintenance” workers carry Tasers. When talented poet Emma disappears, three students, distrusting of the school administration, launch their own investigation. Brilliant chemist Neesha believes Emma has run away to avoid taking the heat for the duo’s illegal drug enterprise. Her boyfriend, an athlete called Aiden, naturally wants to find her. Evan, a chess prodigy who relies on patterns and has difficulty processing social signals, believes he knows Emma better than anyone. While the school is an insidious character on its own and the big reveal is slightly psychologically disturbing, Evan’s positioning as a tragic hero with an uncertain fate—which is connected to his stalking of Emma (even before her disappearance)—is far more unsettling. The ’90s setting provides the backdrop for tongue-in-cheek technological references but doesn’t do anything for the plot. Student testimonials and voice-to-text transcripts punctuate the three-way third-person narration that alternates among Neesha, Evan, and Aiden. Emma, Aiden, and Evan are assumed to be white; Neesha is Indian. Students are from all over the world, including Asia and the Middle East.

Only marginally intriguing. (Mystery. 15-18)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266203-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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