Unabashedly nerdtastic.

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THE PRINCESS AND THE FANGIRL

From the Once Upon a Con series , Vol. 2

A celebrity wants to be somebody else and a fan just wants to be somebody in this The Prince and the Pauper–inspired sequel to Geekerella (2017).

Having played Princess Amara in the movie reboot of cult sci-fi show Starfield, 19-year-old Jessica Stone is ready to move on to more serious roles. High schooler and self-proclaimed nobody Imogen Lovelace idolizes the independent space princess and is campaigning to #SaveAmara. When the look-alikes collide at the annual ExcelsiCon and switch places—a cinematic improbability acknowledged, then cheerfully exploited—each gains a new perspective on fandom. Jess revels in normality and hesitantly explores romance with Imogen’s online friend, Harper Hart. Imogen relishes the limelight and spars and sparks with Jess’ bodyguard, overly serious 17-year-old Ethan Tanaka. Interracial and same-sex relationships are central—Jess and Imogen are white, Harper is black and female, Ethan is Japanese-American, and Imogen has two moms and a gay brother—all befitting the inclusivity and gender-bending aspects of fandom, cosplay, and cons. Yet Poston (Heart of Iron, 2018, etc.) also ruthlessly dissects the dark side of science-fiction and fantasy pop culture: body-shaming, trolls, social media mobs, and sexual harassment. Sometimes, the best tales are the ones that transport audiences, not serious and philosophical but fun, light, and nerdy.

Unabashedly nerdtastic. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68369-096-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else.

ALL THIS TIME

A modern-day fairy tale about two teenagers suffering from loss who find healing in one another.

Despite the ups and downs in their relationship, Kyle and Kimberly have always made up, and Kyle looks forward to attending college together after graduation. But on the night they should be celebrating, Kimberly confesses that she has committed to a different college and breaks up with him. As they argue, their car crashes, and Kyle later wakes up in the hospital and learns that Kimberly is dead. In his grief, Kyle blames himself for her death. He struggles to leave his bed most days, ignores calls from his and Kimberly’s best friend, Sam, and has visions of Kimberly and life before the accident. One day, while visiting Kimberly’s grave, he meets Marley, a girl who likes telling stories and is mourning the death of her twin sister. Predictably, their natural affinity for one another evolves into romance. It is unfortunate that Kyle essentially moves from one romantic relationship to another on his journey to better understanding himself and his co-dependence on those closest to him, although his gradual development into a more considerate person redeems him. The pacing remains even until the critical plot disruption, resulting in the rest of the story feeling disjointed and rushed. All characters are White.

For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6634-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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