This lackluster addition to the bloated teen-paranormal-romance genre has nothing new to offer.

DARKEST FEAR

From the Birthright series , Vol. 1

The first book in Tiernan’s Birthright series (Eternally Yours, 2012, etc.) is both predictable and unoriginal.

Vivi Neves has known she’s one of the haguari, an ancient race of shape-shifting jaguar people, since she was 13. After five years of fighting her parents’ efforts to persuade her to embrace her heritage, Vivi is forced to change for the first time when she and her parents are attacked during a family picnic. Her parents end up dead, her father’s heart missing. Among her parents’ belongings, Vivi uncovers evidence of an aunt she never knew existed and heads to New Orleans to find her. Instead, she meets her 20-something cousin, Matéo, whose parents died a year and a half before, their hearts also taken. Vivi moves in with Matéo and his girlfriend and their many haguari friends, and she finds safety and normalcy in her barista job at a local cafe. There, she begins a will-they-won’t-they relationship with moody Rafael, the manager. Vivi’s first-person narration is an exhausting mix of back story and summary that prevents the plot from developing. She thinks and speaks in ellipses and speculative questions, and her snarky voice is whiny rather than quirky. Her jaguar voice is a stream-of-consciousness jumble of broken and run-on sentences in present tense, and the move from one voice to the other is jarring. The anticlimactic ending will leave readers too frustrated to read subsequent installments to find out who is kidnapping haguari and taking their hearts.

This lackluster addition to the bloated teen-paranormal-romance genre has nothing new to offer. (Paranormal romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-8246-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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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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