An exuberant runaround carried along by the heady rush of first love.

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ANALIESE RISING

Two teens become drawn to each other after supernatural events send them searching for answers in this fast-paced romantic adventure by Drake (Assassin of Truths, 2018, etc.).

Seventeen-year-old Philadelphian Analiese—nicknamed Ana—knows something about death. Her parents passed away when she was 2, and she was adopted and raised by her aunt and uncle. Three months ago, her uncle died; he loved her and her cousin equally, and he taught Ana how to cope with her panic attacks. Now, just as he’s gone, Ana finds that she has need of his counsel. The strangeness starts in biology class, when a frog that Ana’s about to dissect suddenly comes back to life. Then an old man, a stranger, saves her from being struck by a car, resulting in his own fatal injury. As he lies dying, he entrusts Ana with his bag: “Take it to my grandson,” he says. “Don’t let anyone see you have it. You’re in danger, Analiese. Run. Don’t stop.” So begins an adventure that will change her life. How does the old man know her name? And can she trust his grandson, Marek Conte, as much as she’s attracted to him? Soon, the pair find themselves in Rome, falling for each other as they hunt down clues that Marek’s grandfather left behind—clues that will reveal the truth of how Ana’s parents died and about Ana’s previously unknown powers. Drake writes from a first-person, present-tense perspective and imbues her narrator, Ana, with plenty of character. Ana’s proneness to panic attacks, for example, sits naturally within the story, serving no plot-relevant purpose but adding to her emotional depth. Her thoughts are suitably teenage in tone, but even when she finds herself objectifying Marek, Drake allows her the self-awareness to know that she’s edging toward cliché. The rollicking story rolls along nicely throughout, with plenty of moments of introspection. The various antagonists that the two encounter seem unaccountably enigmatic at times, but this is a minor quibble, as teen readers will join willingly in the chase.

An exuberant runaround carried along by the heady rush of first love.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-508-1

Page Count: 350

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

ADORKABLE

In O’Gorman’s YA debut, two best friends try to fool people into thinking that they’re in love—and then discover a new facet of their relationship.

Sally Spitz is a frizzy-haired 17-year-old girl with a charming zeal for three things: Harry Potter (she’s a Gryffindor), Star Wars, and getting into Duke University. During her senior year of high school, she goes on a slew of miserable dates, set up by her mother and her own second-best–friend–turned-matchmaker, Lillian Hooker. Sally refuses to admit to anyone that she’s actually head over Converses in love with her longtime best friend, a boy named Baldwin Eugene Charles Kent, aka “Becks.” After a particularly awkward date, Sally devises a plan to end Lillian’s matchmaking attempts; specifically, she plans to hire someone to act as her fake boyfriend, or “F.B.F.” But before Sally can put her plan into action, a rumor circulates that Sally and Becks are already dating. Becks agrees to act as Sally’s F.B.F. in exchange for a box of Goobers and Sally’s doing his calculus homework for a month. Later, as they hold hands in the hall and “practice” make-out sessions in Becks’ bedroom, their friendship heads into unfamiliar territory. Over the course of this novel, O’Gorman presents an inviting and enjoyable account of lifelong friendship transforming into young love. Though the author’s reliance on familiar tropes may be comforting to a casual reader, it may frustrate those who may be looking for a more substantial and less predictable plot. A number of ancillary characters lack very much complexity, and the story, overall, would have benefited from an added twist or two. Even so, however, this remains a largely engaging and often endearing debut. 

A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-759-7

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

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Well-drawn characters and playful twists keep this thriller fully charged.

MALICE

This YA SF novel features a teen who must halt a virus that will kill two-thirds of humanity.

In Silver Oak, Maryland, Alice Sherman is a high school junior enjoying lunch near her campus basketball court. With her is Archie, her brother, a senior and science prodigy who likes equations more than his fellow students. Alice has been Archie’s one true friend since their mother left six years ago. Alice is about to catch up with Lalana Bunyasarn, her best friend, when a sudden “streak of electricity zaps through” her head. The agony intensifies until a Voice enters Alice’s mind, asking her, “Do you want this pain to stop?” The Voice then instructs her to go up to Bandit Sakda, a classmate playing basketball, and say that she loves him. Bandit is a beautiful Thai boy who’s talented and arrogant. Strangely, the Voice calls her Malice and says not to fall for him because “it’ll only make what you have to do later harder.” Eventually, Alice learns that the Voice belongs to someone from 10 years in the future who needs help saving humanity. A virus will be created by a person Alice knows that will wipe out two-thirds of the world population. Following the Voice’s directions can save everyone—except the person Alice is ordered to kill. Dunn’s (Star-Crossed, 2018, etc.) latest YA adventure offers increasingly tantalizing twists that gleam in succession like nested matryoshka dolls. Alice will charm readers with her quirks, especially her devotion to Chris Hemsworth of Marvel’s Avengers films. Tension builds as characters in the large cast, including crushworthy Zeke Cain and the brilliant Cristela Ruiz, become potential targets for Alice’s mission. Details about Thai culture add a splendid dimension to the narrative; for example, Bandit is pronounced “bun-dit” and means “one who is wise.” While the notion of a high school killer may not sit well with some, the author doesn’t use the device lightly. Her book takes a strong anti-bullying stance, doing so through an entertaining narrative that doesn’t resort to preaching. The author’s heart and craftiness make a sequel welcome.

Well-drawn characters and playful twists keep this thriller fully charged.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64063-412-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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