A warmly entertaining story at the nexus of teen relationships and activism.

THE VOTING BOOTH

An African American teen activist is drawn to a young man she meets accidentally.

Marva Sheridan was passionate about politics long before she was able to vote herself. It was not enough to anticipate voting for the first time, she’s also worked to make sure that others did so as well. When she witnesses Duke Crenshaw, another teen, being turned away on Election Day, she springs into action. The two spend the day together as Duke attempts to work out his registration issues and get to his drumming gig. As they get to know each other, bits of their stories are shared: Marva’s tensions with Alec, her White boyfriend who has decided not to vote, and Duke’s family, who is still trying to cope following the death of his older brother. Duke’s White mother and Black father have divorced, and both parents are extremely protective of him and his younger sister. In addition, Marva’s cat Selma, an internet star known as Eartha Kitty, has gone missing. Colbert skillfully manages both serious and playful elements throughout the novel. Marva has an infectious personality, and her politics and identity are realistically portrayed. Duke’s grief, still raw, is palpable and will engage readers’ empathy. The chapters feature alternating first-person narration, giving the novel an intimate feel. Secondary characters add rich texture to and understanding of the primary characters.

A warmly entertaining story at the nexus of teen relationships and activism. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-05329-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s.

GRIS GRIMLY'S FRANKENSTEIN

A slightly abridged graphic version of the classic that will drive off all but the artist’s most inveterate fans.

Admirers of the original should be warned away by veteran horror artist Bernie Wrightson’s introductory comments about Grimly’s “wonderfully sly stylization” and the “twinkle” in his artistic eye. Most general readers will founder on the ensuing floods of tiny faux handwritten script that fill the opening 10 pages of stage-setting correspondence (other lengthy letters throughout are presented in similarly hard-to-read typefaces). The few who reach Victor Frankenstein’s narrative will find it—lightly pruned and, in places, translated into sequences of largely wordless panels—in blocks of varied length interspersed amid sheaves of cramped illustrations with, overall, a sickly, greenish-yellow cast. The latter feature spidery, often skeletal figures that barrel over rough landscapes in rococo, steampunk-style vehicles when not assuming melodramatic poses. Though the rarely seen monster is a properly hard-to-resolve jumble of massive rage and lank hair, Dr. Frankenstein looks like a decayed Lyle Lovett with high cheekbones and an errant, outsized quiff. His doomed bride, Elizabeth, sports a white lock à la Elsa Lanchester, and decorative grotesqueries range from arrangements of bones and skull-faced flowers to bunnies and clownish caricatures.

Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s. (Graphic classic. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-186297-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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