Some teen readers will accept the slightly shallow plotlines and characters thanks to the (relative) novelty of the format;...


From the Snap Decision series , Vol. 1

Told with second-person narration, Clark’s teen debut immerses readers in a freshman scholarship student’s social dilemmas at an uber-exclusive prep school. Chapters end with classic Choose Your Own Adventure–style scenarios, allowing readers to navigate various plotlines.

Liberally sprinkled with pop-culture references (“In the immortal words of Beyonce, don’t you ever get to thinking you’re irreplaceable”), designer clothing brands (Marc Jacobs, Cartier) and slang (“chunder”), the teens’ voices are potentially appealing, if a bit caricatured. Predictably, many of the possible decisions center around potential romantic interests. “You” will often find yourself torn between your perfect crush, who happens to be your best friend/roommate’s boyfriend, a “Top Five senior stud” wannabe musician and your semi-nerdy best friend, Walter. Few readers will be surprised that choosing Walter results more consistently in happiness, though many may be dismayed that Walter frequently must first undergo a “bona fide hottie” makeover transformation. More troubling is Clark’s casual treatment of substantive issues. The real consequences of a student’s romantic entanglement with a teacher (and the student’s subsequent jealousy-fueled arson) are never addressed. A victim of rophynol-assisted date rape does eventually seek medical treatment, but the psychological impacts of her experience merit only a few brief sentences.

Some teen readers will accept the slightly shallow plotlines and characters thanks to the (relative) novelty of the format; most will give it a miss. (Fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59643-816-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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Queer, fluffy fun.


Senior year brings an entire list of changes to Jay’s life.

Jay, a gay 17-year-old, experiences a dramatic shift when his mother’s promotion to grocery store district manager transports their family from a small, not-very-diverse town in Eastern Washington to Seattle for his last year in high school. Jay will have to leave his best friend, Lu, but their friendship can survive the distance, right? It also means the chance to cross off items on Jay’s Gay Agenda, a list that ranges from finally meeting another gay boy (after being the only one who is out at his school) to, hopefully, going all the way. Things look up when Jay is taken under the wing of exuberant, genderqueer Max, a new Seattle classmate who helps him make moves toward sexy (and fun) Tony and sexy (and endearing) Albert. The story will amuse readers who are looking for a light read, although the characters at times read more like sitcom versions of teenagers than the real things. While the overall tone is more slapstick and humorous, a subplot concerning orphaned Lu’s financial problems is handled with sensitivity. The coronavirus is mentioned in a context indicating that the story is set in the near post-pandemic future, after quarantines have ended. Most main characters are implied White; Albert is Chinese American, and secondary characters in Seattle reflect the diversity of the city.

Queer, fluffy fun. (Fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-301515-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.


From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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