Both emotionally satisfying and sure to be much discussed. (Fiction. 14-16)


Two teens experience an intense year of first love.

Carolina and Trevor, a pair of emotionally intuitive, gifted athletes, are drawn to each other on the first day of high school and soon discover a heady physical chemistry. Debut novelist Gottfred alternates between Carolina’s and Trevor’s deeply earnest voices to tease out both the elation and the anguish of headlong first love. This technique is now almost clichéd, but it works here thanks to the psychological heft and frankness of the protagonists’ narration. Each longs for a romance based on total honesty, but as both struggle with mistrust in their relationships with their parents, neither fully trusts the other to accept their flaws, setting up future conflicts almost immediately. It’s refreshing to see both male and female characters striving to sort out the messy, complex feelings of all kinds that go along with an active but secret sex life and to see how those experiences help them mature substantively (and age appropriately) in their relationships with both their peers and their parents—who are much better at parenting than they are at marriage. The downside of using alternating perspectives is length—this novel would have benefited from tighter editing—but Gottfred is plainly a talent to watch.

Both emotionally satisfying and sure to be much discussed. (Fiction. 14-16)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-191-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.


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 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking.


Sixteen-year-old Mandy considers herself the anti-Starfire: Unlike her scantily clad superhero mother, she doesn’t have superpowers, can’t fly, and doesn’t even own a bathing suit.

Mandy dyes her hair and dresses in all black to further call out how different they are. Mandy’s best friend, Lincoln, whose parents were born in Vietnam, insightfully summarizes this rift as being down to an intergenerational divide that occurs whether parents and children come from different countries or different planets. Mandy tries to figure out what kind of future she wants for herself as she struggles with teenage insecurities and bullying, her relationship with her mom, and her budding friendship (or is it something more?) with her new class project partner, Claire. Yoshitani’s vibrant and colorful stylized illustrations beautifully meld the various iterations of Starfire and the Titans with the live-action versions of those characters. Together with Tamaki’s punchy writing, this coming-of-age story of identity, family, friendship, and saving the world is skillfully brought to life in a quick but nuanced read. These layers are most strongly displayed as the story draws parallels between cultural differences between the generations as evidenced in how the characters address bullying, body positivity, fatphobia, fetishization and sexualization, and feminism. This title addresses many important concepts briefly, but well, with great pacing, bold art, and concise and snappy dialogue. The cast is broadly diverse in both primary and secondary characters.

Equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking. (Graphic fantasy. 14-16)

Pub Date: July 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-126-4

Page Count: 184

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2021

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