GEOGRAPHY CLUB

Much to his surprise (and relief), a closeted gay boy in high school discovers that he isn’t the only homosexual teenager in his community. Russel Middlebrook, a sophomore at Goodkind High School, has a secret. Although he hasn’t had physical sex yet, he knows in his heart that he’s gay. News like that is tantamount to dynamite; socially it could blow him out of the “border region of high school respectability” he inhabits and into the land of the ostracized and set upon. Then Russel finds out that classmate Kevin Land, a handsome and popular star athlete, is a clandestine homosexual too. In a necessary but not very plausible plot twist, Russel confesses to his close female friend Min, who in turn admits to having a girlfriend. The teens desperately need to talk about their shared situation, so in an effort to find a safe haven and discourage other kids from coming around, they create the dullest after-school organization they can think of, the Geography Club. The group survives the addition of a straight girl with another kind of secret and Kevin and Russel’s growing attachment, but its undoing comes when Min, knowing that they are only a whisper away from social ostracism themselves, fights to have Brian Bund, the “unquestioned outcast” of Goodkind, join their organization. Hartinger has to jiggle the plot to make it work, Russel’s adventures in heterosexual dating feel forced and the conclusion strains credibility, yet overall the book is provocative, insightful, and in the end comforting. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-001221-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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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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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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