A between-books read for avid fans of survival fiction and serial-killer tales.

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RUTHLESS

Can 17-year-old Ruth’s relentless drive to win save her from a serial killer?

When she’s competing or training Tucker, her horse, Ruth Carver pushes herself to the limit to be the best. In fact, the other girls who take lessons from her mother at the stable, part of Ruth’s family’s farm, call Ruth “Ruthless.” Waking in a dark vehicle and sure she has a concussion, Ruth knows she’s been kidnapped and vows to follow her sheriff grandfather’s advice to do anything to escape. When she meets her wolflike abductor and learns she’s not his first victim and that he wants to show her the error of her high-and-mighty ways, Ruth knows this fight will take every ounce of resolve and smarts. She escapes, naked, into the Blue Ridge Mountains’ wilderness, but the “Wolfman” has plans to get his seventh victim back. Seattle screenwriter and sometime stand-up comic Adams’ solid-enough debut plumbs the depths of serial-killer and bitchy-teen psychology in alternating chapters of back story that trade off with Ruth’s present-tense narration of her harrowing experience. Ruth is a strong character, but her nickname fits, and even in extremis she may be more unlikable than sympathetic. Several high-adrenaline set pieces dot this at-times improbable and repetitive thriller.

A between-books read for avid fans of survival fiction and serial-killer tales. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2262-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in...

DEAR MARTIN

In this roller-coaster ride of a debut, the author summons the popular legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. to respond to the recent tragic violence befalling unarmed black men and boys.

Seventeen-year-old black high school senior Justyce McAllister, a full-scholarship student at the virtually all-white Braselton Prep, is the focus. After a bloody run-in with the police when they take his good deed for malice, Justyce seeks meaning in a series of letters with his “homie” Dr. King. He writes, “I thought if I made sure to be an upstanding member of society, I’d be exempt from the stuff THOSE black guys deal with, you know?” While he’s ranked fourth in his graduating class and well-positioned for the Ivy League, Justyce is coming to terms with the fact that there’s not as much that separates him from “THOSE black guys” as he’d like to believe. Despite this, Stone seems to position Justyce and his best friend as the decidedly well-mannered black children who are deserving of readers’ sympathies. They are not those gangsters that can be found in Justyce’s neighborhood. There’s nuance to be found for sure, but not enough to upset the dominant narrative. What if they weren’t the successful kids? While the novel intentionally leaves more questions than it attempts to answer, there are layers that still remain between the lines.

Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in the face. Take interest and ask questions. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93949-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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