Give these cardboard characters and their ludicrous plot a miss.

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AFTER THE RED RAIN

Lyga (Blood of My Blood, 2014, etc.) is joined by actor Facinelli and film producer DeFranco for this post-apocalyptic novel.

In the distant, environmentally devastated future, orphan Deedra’s a factory worker and sometime scavenger. During a scrounging trip, she encounters the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen; incredibly, Rose lacks the scars and callouses that mark everybody else. After their brief, mysterious encounter, she can’t get him off of her mind. Lucky for her, he feels the same, reappearing just in time to rescue her from a highly placed would-be rapist, magistrate’s son and factory overseer Jaron. As Deedra learns about Rose’s mysterious abilities, she eventually discovers his true nature—it’s an implausible abuse of science, but at least it’s original. When Jaron is mysteriously and brutally murdered, suspicion turns to outsider Rose, and even Deedra has doubts about his innocence. Jaron’s murder sends his father—an all-powerful, cartoonishly evil dictator—on a witch hunt against Rose and toward war. Interesting themes—the elimination of history as social control and philosophy of utilitarianism vs. individual rights—are clumsily overstated and lack subtlety. The worldbuilding, even in the context of the cultural blank slate, is too weak to sustain the story. The prose alternates between choppy and frustratingly repetitive. The ending promises a sequel.

Give these cardboard characters and their ludicrous plot a miss. (Post-apocalyptic romance. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-40603-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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