This timely reminder of the power and passion of young people contextualizes current student protests by honoring those of...

WHEN MORNING COMES

In her debut novel, Raina applies the now-familiar "teenage girl takes on the government" trope to the Soweto uprising of June 1976.

Zanele, a black grade-12 student, is not a reluctant hero. She starts her portion of the narration by describing her role in the attempted bombing of a power plant and goes on to be one of the primary organizers of the student protest against unjust language laws. She is a leader by conviction. The author uses three other narrators to highlight this. Jack is Zanele's most obvious foil. A white boy from a middle-class family, his understanding of racial inequality extends only to his attempts to get close to Zanele, who occasionally assists her mother in serving his family. A black gang member and an Indian shopkeeper’s daughter respectively, Thabo and Meena are united by their friendship with Zanele but diverge in the ways in which they engage with the community and the police. The presentation of characters with different racial identities beautifully highlights how those identities shape the characters’ understandings and experiences of apartheid and their subsequent reactions to the uprising. Small details, such as Jack and his friends listening to Miles Davis as they put on blackface, stoke the tension in the prose. The violence that erupts is gut-wrenching but unsurprising. Readers who love the fast pace and high stakes of dystopian teen literature should snag this book.

This timely reminder of the power and passion of young people contextualizes current student protests by honoring those of the past. (historical note, glossary, glossary sources) (Historical fiction. 13-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-896580-69-2

Page Count: 210

Publisher: Tradewind Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s.

GRIS GRIMLY'S FRANKENSTEIN

A slightly abridged graphic version of the classic that will drive off all but the artist’s most inveterate fans.

Admirers of the original should be warned away by veteran horror artist Bernie Wrightson’s introductory comments about Grimly’s “wonderfully sly stylization” and the “twinkle” in his artistic eye. Most general readers will founder on the ensuing floods of tiny faux handwritten script that fill the opening 10 pages of stage-setting correspondence (other lengthy letters throughout are presented in similarly hard-to-read typefaces). The few who reach Victor Frankenstein’s narrative will find it—lightly pruned and, in places, translated into sequences of largely wordless panels—in blocks of varied length interspersed amid sheaves of cramped illustrations with, overall, a sickly, greenish-yellow cast. The latter feature spidery, often skeletal figures that barrel over rough landscapes in rococo, steampunk-style vehicles when not assuming melodramatic poses. Though the rarely seen monster is a properly hard-to-resolve jumble of massive rage and lank hair, Dr. Frankenstein looks like a decayed Lyle Lovett with high cheekbones and an errant, outsized quiff. His doomed bride, Elizabeth, sports a white lock à la Elsa Lanchester, and decorative grotesqueries range from arrangements of bones and skull-faced flowers to bunnies and clownish caricatures.

Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s. (Graphic classic. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-186297-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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