A sweet romance with a quick sense of humor and supernatural action.

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THE DARK WORLD

From the Dark World series , Vol. 1

A teenage girl is drawn into a secret supernatural war.

After a terrible accident, Paige Kelly sees dead people. Watching her talk to invisible people has led everyone from schoolmates to family members to think she is mentally ill. The only people nice to “Bellevue Kelly” (as her tormenters call her) are a hot new boy who borrows pens from her and Dottie, who died in the 1950s in the school’s third-floor bathroom. Paige’s narration is delightfully funny—it’s not snarky for the sake of snark but genuinely witty. When new transfer students show up and reveal demonic powers in attacking Paige, the hot pen-borrower—Logan—swoops in for the rescue and expository revelations. It appears that Paige’s supernatural abilities have caught the attention of demons in the alternate version of New York—the titular Dark World—so their enemies, the warlocks, sent demonslayer Logan to protect her. He falls for her, of course, but the relationship between the two develops slowly; their combined romantic inexperience leads to natural, hilarious and awkward fumbling. The demonic storyline, which is moved to the back burner as the romance blooms, hints at double crosses and intrigues, to be explored (hopefully) in the next book. The cliffhanger ending is less a conclusion and more a temporary stopping point.

A sweet romance with a quick sense of humor and supernatural action. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up)

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-373-21120-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.

THE TWIN

After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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