A script-ready story with blockbuster potential.

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THE LOOP

As the government harvests young people for energy and experimentation, one group of teens fights to reclaim their bodies—and tries not to lose their minds in the process.

In a futuristic, dystopian society run by an Overseer reminiscent of President Donald Trump (or perhaps Boris Johnson since the debut author is Scottish), there are the poor, less privileged Regulars and the cyborg Altereds, whose money buys them status and a better, bioengineered body. To sustain the Alts’ high-tech lifestyle and bodies, the government harvests energy from and experiments on inmates in the death row prison, the Loop. Inmate Luka Kane, 16, a Regular who was imprisoned for an undisclosed crime, narrates this taut, SF thriller and trilogy opener. Following thorough descriptions of society’s ideologies and Luka’s intense situation is nonstop action. Rumors of an uprising and the unexplained shutdown of Happy, the World Government’s operating system, give Luka and fellow inmates—all of whom have features their society deems imperfect—the chance to break out. In an even more hostile environment on the outside, they fight for independence amid violence, murder, and unexpected twists and turns. Readers must figure out ever changing government controls along with Luka; one of these open-ended surprises sets the scene for the next volume. Luka has dark skin, and the cast is ethnically diverse; Alts are white.

A script-ready story with blockbuster potential. (Dystopian. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-58930-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching.

CODE NAME VERITY

Breaking away from Arthurian legends (The Winter Prince, 1993, etc.), Wein delivers a heartbreaking tale of friendship during World War II.

In a cell in Nazi-occupied France, a young woman writes. Like Scheherezade, to whom she is compared by the SS officer in charge of her case, she dribbles out information—“everything I can remember about the British War Effort”—in exchange for time and a reprieve from torture. But her story is more than a listing of wireless codes or aircraft types. Instead, she describes her friendship with Maddie, the pilot who flew them to France, as well as the real details of the British War Effort: the breaking down of class barriers, the opportunities, the fears and victories not only of war, but of daily life. She also describes, almost casually, her unbearable current situation and the SS officer who holds her life in his hands and his beleaguered female associate, who translates the narrative each day. Through the layers of story, characters (including the Nazis) spring to life. And as the epigraph makes clear, there is more to this tale than is immediately apparent. The twists will lead readers to finish the last page and turn back to the beginning to see how the pieces slot perfectly, unexpectedly into place.

A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5219-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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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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