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A light, funny romance that offers few surprises but a fair degree of satisfaction

A teen is unwittingly vaulted into the limelight by her old crush when his band hits the charts with a song that he seems to have written about her.

Seventeen-year-old socially awkward Natalie “Nattie” McCullough-Schwartz is most comfortable with her tightknit group of friends: extroverted Tess and the two Zachs (known affectionately as Tall Zach and Zach the Anarchist), who, with Nattie, make up the core of Owen Wister Preparatory Academy’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual Alliance. However, the unresolved events of an evening the year before, when cute, mysterious Sebastian approached her at a party, land her in a complicated scenario in which they keep exchanging somewhat flirtatious texts after the song about her debuts. At the same time, she and Zach the Anarchist also have a history that won’t seem to stay in the past. The main narrative is predictable, but this is balanced by clever dialogue and welcome subplots involving Tess coming to terms with telling her family she is gay and the OWPALGBTQIA running a disastrously funny bake sale to raise money to sponsor their school’s winter formal in order to make it more inclusive. The lead characters seem to be white, Tall Zach is Jewish and gay, and Nattie’s family has a Chinese exchange student, Sam Huang, living with them.

A light, funny romance that offers few surprises but a fair degree of satisfaction . (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-244777-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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