A timely, suspenseful, well-written page-turner with compelling main characters and one notable flaw.

MORE THAN WE CAN TELL

An accidental meeting leads to romance for two anxious teens; sharing secrets, they discover each is being stalked.

Rev wears hoodies to cover scars left by his abusive father a decade earlier; successful adoption hasn’t healed Rev’s invisible scars, either. When Rev turns 18, his father initiates contact. His increasingly ominous emails reawaken Rev’s nightmarish memories. Meanwhile, Emma’s proud of the computer game she designed, an escape from her parents’ foundering marriage. When a player/troll intrudes with obscene, threatening messages, she turns to a friendly player, who offers help. She mends a frayed friendship too, but her parents’ marriage proves unfixable. The teens’ connection is a balm for Rev and Emma, even as each inflicts unintended pain. The troubled teen Rev’s parents take in as a short-term foster placement brings horrific baggage, adding to Rev’s stress. Rev and Emma fear growing into their parents. Could Rev become his violent father? Might Emma morph into her cold, sniping mother? Family dysfunction, anxiety, and PTSD from long-term abuse are all believably conveyed. Frustratingly, in contrast to the well-crafted white characters (Rev, Emma, and most others), Rev’s black, adoptive parents are “magical Negroes.” Saintly, loving, infertile middle-class professionals, they’re generic, place-holder avatars. Unlike Emma’s vivid, problematic parents, Rev’s lack individual traits or lives separate from their adjunct role, and the narrative is largely oblivious to race.

A timely, suspenseful, well-written page-turner with compelling main characters and one notable flaw. (Fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-014-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 2

Lara Jean's romantic entanglements complicate themselves further.

In the wake of the events detailed in To All the Boys I Loved Before (2014), Lara Jean confesses her love for handsome golden boy Peter. This frees the pair to start a romantic relationship with a clean slate, but over the course of the novel it becomes clear that embarking on a relationship that turns an aggressive blind eye to baggage is never a good idea. When a viral video of a steamy love session between Peter and Lara Jean rears its ugly head and a boy from the past enters Lara Jean's life once more, Lara Jean's life gets complicated. Every character from Han’s adored previous novel is back, with new dimensions given to nearly every one of them. Subplots abound, among them two involving Lara Jean's father and Peter's ex-gal Genevieve, but benefitting most from this second look is John Ambrose McClaren, a boy briefly referenced in the former book who is thrust into the spotlight here as Peter's rival for Lara Jean's heart. With all these characters bouncing around, Han occasionally struggles to keep a steady hand on the novel's primary thrust: Lara Jean’s emotional development. Han gets the job done in the end, but this overeventful sequel pales to the original where structure is concerned. The author's greatest success remains her character work, and the book does indeed give everyone a solid arc, narrative be damned.

A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2673-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2015

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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