Morgyn’s supernaturally tinged debut is a heartbreaking but hopeful exploration of death and grief.

RESURRECTION GIRLS

Three years ago, Olivia Foster’s 3-year-old brother, Robby, drowned in the backyard pool while she flirted with her crush, Prescott Peters.

Since then, the pool has been filled in, her mother rarely emerges from her room, her dad’s work hours have mysteriously gotten longer, and 16-year-old narrator Olivia occasionally raids her mother’s prescription pill stash to dull her own pain and guilt as she assumes a lion’s share of the responsibility at home. The scorching Houston summer takes a transformative turn when Kara Hallas moves into the long-vacant house across the street with her cigar-chomping maternal grandmother, Sybil, and flame-haired mother, Rhea. The wild and vibrant Kara is a magnet for everyone, including Prescott, whom Olivia has barely seen since Robby’s death. Friendship, and maybe something more, blooms, and Kara convinces Olivia to help her write letters to death row inmates as the Resurrection Girls, claiming that they’re giving them hope in their last days. A dark and unearthly something simmers in Kara that awakens a fire in Olivia and may be the key to finding a way out of the “endless parade of days” they’ve marched through like “automatons” since Robby’s death. The lovely, assured prose draws on ancient archetypes and a lingering sense of dread to pave the way for a strange but satisfying conclusion. All characters are assumed white (the Hallas family are Greek American).

Morgyn’s supernaturally tinged debut is a heartbreaking but hopeful exploration of death and grief. (Magical realism. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6942-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends.

RED QUEEN

From the Red Queen series , Vol. 1

Amid a war and rising civil unrest, a young thief discovers the shocking power within her that sparks a revolution.

At 17, Mare knows that without an apprenticeship or job, her next birthday will bring a conscription to join the war. She contributes to her poor family’s income the only way she can, stealing from the Silvers, who possess myriad powers and force her and her fellow Reds into servitude. The Silvers literally bleed silver, and they can manipulate metal, plants and animals, among many other talents. When Mare’s best friend, Kilorn, loses his job and is doomed to conscription, she is determined to change his fate. She stumbles into a mysterious stranger after her plan goes awry and is pulled out of her village and into the world of Silver royalty. Once inside the palace walls, it isn’t long before Mare learns that powers unknown to red-blooded humans lie within her, powers that could lead a revolution. Familiar tropes abound. Mare is revealed as a great catalyst for change among classes and is groomed from rags to riches, and of course, seemingly kind characters turn out to be foes. However, Aveyard weaves a compelling new world, and Mare and the two men in her life evolve intriguingly as class tension rises. Revolution supersedes romance, setting the stage for action-packed surprises.

An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-231063-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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