Exciting and fast-paced entertainment with a thoughtful subtext asking readers to ponder the interconnectedness of life on a...

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THE GIRL AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD

From the Islands at the End of the World series , Vol. 2

This sequel to The Islands at the End of the World (2014) finds Leilani reunited with her family on Hawaii’s Big Island as humanity slowly adapts to the new, post-apocalyptic normal.

In the wake of the events of the first book, Leilani must persuade the Orchid, the extraterrestrial responsible for the global nuclear meltdowns, to absorb the radiation threatening to plunge the planet into nuclear winter. While the island’s peace-loving residents grow crops and barter goods, gangs battle for control of vastly diminished resources—including the antibiotics Lei’s friend Tami desperately needs. Worries mount: material expelled by the Orchid hits Mauna Loa; Lei discovers someone working against her efforts, pushing the Orchid to leave too soon. She’s heartened when the attractive soldier who helped her escape Oahu shows up—but so does the sheriff of Hana, a brutal psychopath with plans for using her powers. Lei’s epileptic seizures are in abeyance, but she fears they’ll return after the Orchid leaves. Sharing its predecessor’s strengths, a suspenseful plot and compelling characters with emotional depth, this sequel effectively depicts the true and lasting costs of violence, even when its use is justified. As in the prior book, the ways the characters react to growing chaos remain entirely convincing, and the setting is vividly realized.

Exciting and fast-paced entertainment with a thoughtful subtext asking readers to ponder the interconnectedness of life on a fragile planet. (Science fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-74404-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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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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