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DON'T COSPLAY WITH MY HEART

This authentically geeky and feminist romance nails the con scene.

A teen copes with home-life troubles by cosplaying her favorite comic-book character.

Edan Kupferman’s father is being sequestered during an inquiry into shifty accounting at his workplace. Needing an escape from reality, she heads to the Angeles Comic Con for a panel with the cast from the upcoming film of her favorite comic, Team Tomorrow. (Between chapters, history and analysis of the fictional comic book are given, including parallels to Edan’s life.) At the con, she connects with her crush, Yuri, whose friends constantly quiz her to check her nerd-cred. In fact, Edan struggles throughout against geek sexism, objecting to the “fake geek girl” label and telling a male jerk that “cosplay is not content.” A costume contest to be an extra in the movie’s sequel prompts Edan to start a cosplay club at school. One member is Spanish-speaking Kirk Gomez, who is Han Solo–handsome and ethical enough for one of Yuri’s goon friends to accuse him of being a “social justice warrior.” Edan tries to ignore both Yuri’s complacency in the sexism she faces and her growing connection with Kirk in a frustrating love triangle. A final plot twist that coincides with the revelation of her father’s troubles is engrossing, but its resolution’s glossed over in favor of the inevitable romantic conclusion. Edan and Yuri seem to be white, though people of color populate the diverse secondary cast.

This authentically geeky and feminist romance nails the con scene. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-12549-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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NEVER FALL DOWN

Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers...

A harrowing tale of survival in the Killing Fields.

The childhood of Arn Chorn-Pond has been captured for young readers before, in Michelle Lord and Shino Arihara's picture book, A Song for Cambodia (2008). McCormick, known for issue-oriented realism, offers a fictionalized retelling of Chorn-Pond's youth for older readers. McCormick's version begins when the Khmer Rouge marches into 11-year-old Arn's Cambodian neighborhood and forces everyone into the country. Arn doesn't understand what the Khmer Rouge stands for; he only knows that over the next several years he and the other children shrink away on a handful of rice a day, while the corpses of adults pile ever higher in the mango grove. Arn does what he must to survive—and, wherever possible, to protect a small pocket of children and adults around him. Arn's chilling history pulls no punches, trusting its readers to cope with the reality of children forced to participate in murder, torture, sexual exploitation and genocide. This gut-wrenching tale is marred only by the author's choice to use broken English for both dialogue and description. Chorn-Pond, in real life, has spoken eloquently (and fluently) on the influence he's gained by learning English; this prose diminishes both his struggle and his story.

Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers will seek out the history themselves. (preface, author's note) (Historical fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-173093-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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RADIO SILENCE

A smart, timely outing.

Two teens connect through a mysterious podcast in this sophomore effort by British author Oseman (Solitaire, 2015).

Frances Janvier is a 17-year-old British-Ethiopian head girl who is so driven to get into Cambridge that she mostly forgoes friendships for schoolwork. Her only self-indulgence is listening to and creating fan art for the podcast Universe City, “a…show about a suit-wearing student detective looking for a way to escape a sci-fi, monster-infested university.” Aled Last is a quiet white boy who identifies as “partly asexual.” When Frances discovers that Aled is the secret creator of Universe City, the two embark on a passionate, platonic relationship based on their joint love of pop culture. Their bond is complicated by Aled’s controlling mother and by Frances’ previous crush on Aled’s twin sister, Carys, who ran away last year and disappeared. When Aled’s identity is accidently leaked to the Universe City fandom, he severs his relationship with Frances, leaving her questioning her Cambridge goals and determined to win back his affection, no matter what the cost. Frances’ narration is keenly intelligent; she takes mordant pleasure in using an Indian friend’s ID to get into a club despite the fact they look nothing alike: “Gotta love white people.” Though the social-media–suffused plot occasionally lags, the main characters’ realistic relationship accurately depicts current issues of gender, race, and class.

A smart, timely outing. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-233571-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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