Like the riot-grrrl movement itself, unsubtle but full of heart.

GRRRLS ON THE SIDE

A teenage outcast finds herself in the riot-grrrl scene.

White, fat high school sophomore Tabitha is bullied for her size and a sexual identity she has yet to claim, but she finds solace in punk music and her “absolute disdain for all that is mainstream.” Attending a Bikini Kill show, she’s handed a zine with information about a local riot-grrrl meeting, and after getting up the nerve to attend, she finds a group of young women working to smash the patriarchy through creativity, activism, and mutual support. She falls in with the group and comes out as bisexual, embarking on a relationship with white longtime member Kate. As their relationship grows rocky, Tabitha begins to develop a close friendship and intense chemistry with a new member of the group, Jackie, who is black and butch. Pack’s characters call out problematic behaviors and ideologies, and, while occasionally preachy and didactic, her book earnestly tackles biphobia, racism, and microaggressions, gender presentation, body image, and intersectionality. An author’s note written after the 2017 Women’s March on Washington situates the narrative in the early 1990s and explains the contemporary relevance of the riot-grrrl movement. Snippets reproduced from the characters’ zines are scattered between chapters, providing additional insights into their inner selves and an authentic replica of a cultural moment.

Like the riot-grrrl movement itself, unsubtle but full of heart. (Historical fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: June 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-945053-21-4

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Duet

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.

FIREBORNE

From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

What happens to the world after the dust from a revolution has settled?

Friends Annie and Lee were children from very different circles when Atreus killed Lee’s father, dragonlord Leon Stormscourge, ending the uprising on the bloodiest day in Callipolis’ history. For too long the dragonriders held all the power while their people starved and lived in fear. Nine years later, a new generation of dragonriders is emerging, children selected and trained on merit, not bloodlines. Their dragons are finally mature enough for them to compete for Firstrider, a position of power that can give Lee back a small part of what his family lost. However, not only is Lee competing against Annie, but rumors are circulating that some of the royal family have survived and have dragons of their own. Everyone will have to make a choice: Restore the old regime, support the First Protector and the new caste system he created, or look for a new way, no matter what the cost. From the beginning, this book pulls readers in with political intrigue and action. What keeps them invested, however, are the complex relationships between many cast members. Choices are complex, and the consequences for all could be deadly. The world is well fleshed out and believable. Annie and Lee are light skinned; secondary characters are diverse, and race is a nonissue in this world.

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes. (author’s note) (Fantasy.14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51821-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Only for readers who are really good at suspending disbelief.

H2O

Grab an umbrella: The latest fictional civilization-ending threat is deadly rain.

Ruby’s having the best night of her life, drunkenly making out with her crush in a hot tub at a party. Suddenly, the host’s parents arrive and, panicking, drag everyone indoors. The radio broadcasts an emergency message about fatal rain. Space bacteria have entered the atmosphere on an asteroid, replicated in the clouds’ moisture and now rain death upon humanity. Just humanity, though—inexplicably, this bacteria’s apparently harmless to plants and other animals. After struggling to live through the first few days—finding uncontaminated water sources is a particular challenge—Ruby decides to travel across the country to find her father. The situation’s horrifying, but what gives the deaths resonance is how sad they are, rather than simply scary (although they are plenty gory). Ruby’s narration is unsophisticated and, especially in the beginning, self-conscious, keeping readers from immersing themselves in the story, much as the strange butterfly graphic that censors curse words does. Additionally, Ruby’s progressively vapid characterization makes her hard to root for. Her biggest redeeming trait’s her love of animals. The novel also has the usual post-apocalyptic tropes—nerdy companion, military of dubious trustworthiness, human threats, a young child to take care of and so forth. The ending is immensely unsatisfying.

Only for readers who are really good at suspending disbelief. (Post-apocalyptic adventure. 14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4926-0654-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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