An enjoyable-enough read for high-fantasy fans and readers with a substantial tolerance for blood

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THE LAST FAERIE QUEEN

In this sequel to The Last Changeling (2014), set entirely in Faerie, faerie princess and revolutionary Elora, supported by Taylor and a handful of other human stalwarts, continues her mission to free the faerie underclass as conflict between Bright and Dark intensifies.

Relying on the Seelie Court to help free her people from her mother’s brutal regime, Elora lays her plans. Shorn of her wings, she finds comfort and healing in Taylor’s arms as they prepare for the struggles ahead; making and learning to use new weapons keep the humans occupied. Discovering their old nemesis, the unspeakable Brad, badly injured, they realize that the dark faeries aren’t their only enemies. As the plot shifts from Seelie to Unseelie realms, the plot grows increasingly violent—humans are tortured, torrents of blood are shed, limbs are hacked off. (In contrast to this, Faerie overall is vaguely rendered, thanks to inconsistent worldbuilding.) Interrupting vividly detailed bouts of torture, alternate narrators Elora and Taylor muse elegiacally on ends vs. means; eventually the action slows to a crawl as characters make long speeches. Turgid, high-fantasy melodrama was absent from the first outing, where ethereal Elora’s attempts to fit into all-too-real high school culture made for humor and grounded the plot in our familiar world. Fortunately, Taylor’s distinctive voice and smart, self-deprecating humor remain narrative strengths that mask structural failings.

An enjoyable-enough read for high-fantasy fans and readers with a substantial tolerance for blood . (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7387-4349-3

Page Count: 408

Publisher: Flux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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