Struggling or reluctant readers may be perplexed, but the gripping, if violent, teen content will keep them engaged....

READ REVIEW

PALE

The Lazarus serum allows people with the right blood type to survive death, but in this minimalist dystopia, death may be preferable to the grim future that awaits the resurrected.

The serum has side effects. Pales, the resurrected, don’t breathe, their hearts stop beating, and they never age; skin, hair and eye pupils turn ghostly white. Jed’s community hates the Pales, confining them to the Graveyard, a decayed ghetto. His lawyer dad specializes in denying Pales post-mortem legal rights. Not long after Jed and his brutal friend Kyle beat up a Pale, Jed dies in a car accident, and his distraught girlfriend, Sadie, asks first responders to give him the serum. Now that Jed’s a Pale, his father can’t bear to see him; his friends, even Sadie, reject him. Good genre fiction offers readers a fresh, unique perspective on their world. This rare science-fiction hi-lo for teens (a category largely confined to urban realism) by a British fantasy author raises tough, intriguing questions about insiders and outcasts, gangs, loyalty and what makes life worth living. However, the exceptionally tight word count limits their exploration. This frustratingly vague world cries out for detail and context.

Struggling or reluctant readers may be perplexed, but the gripping, if violent, teen content will keep them engaged. Guaranteed to generate lively discussion. (Science fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-7811-2092-7

Page Count: 67

Publisher: Stoke Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Heart-pounding.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

CEMETERY BOYS

A gay, transgender brujo with burgeoning powers seeks answers about his cousin’s death.

Sixteen-year-old Yadriel also wishes for acknowledgement from his community but unexpectedly finds himself entangled in the unresolved wishes of a strong-willed, good-looking spirit. He descends from a long line of brujx who have been granted magic power by Lady Death to heal the living and to guide spirits into the afterlife. Although he’s grown up surrounded by a close-knit community, Yadriel feels alone, excluded indefinitely from a sacred rite of passage because he is transgender. When he senses that his cousin Miguel has died suddenly but the family can’t locate him, Yadriel sees an opportunity to prove to everyone he’s a true brujo by solving the mystery and releasing his cousin’s lost spirit. His plan quickly falls apart, as he accidentally summons the spirit of Julian Diaz, a boy with unfinished business who died the same day as Miguel. Both the romance and mystery burn slow and hot until the climax. Stakes begin high, and the intensity only increases with a looming deadline and a constant risk that Julian might lose himself, turning maligno. The cast of characters represents a diversity of Latinx identities sharing a community in East Los Angeles. Julian is Colombian while Yadriel is Cuban and Mexican. Their romance provides joyful, ground-breaking representation for gay, transgender boys.

Heart-pounding. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25046-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Swoon Reads/Macmillan

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An unusual journey of self-discovery.

KIND OF A BIG DEAL

After dropping out of high school to chase her dream of Broadway stardom, 18-year-old Josie has landed in Montana with frayed relationships, a bruised ego, and a nanny job.

Encouraged by her overly supportive teacher and thus confident that she will nail the New York City audition he arranged, Josie is too embarrassed to return home to Arizona when she fails to even get a callback. While fruitlessly pursuing other auditions, Josie racks up credit card debt until she gets a job nannying 5-year-old Mia. Josie bonds with Mia, accompanying the child and her newly divorced mother upon their relocation to Missoula. Once there, Josie struggles to make friends; break into community theater; and remain connected to her distant boyfriend, Justin, and her best friend, Nina (a trans woman who is immersed in college life). A casual gift of eyeglasses from a bookseller changes the plot trajectory in a surprising way: Josie realizes that the spectacles allow her to drop straight into—and then influence—the narrative of any book she chooses. So commences a series of adventures in which Josie discovers hard truths about her motivations and relationships. The pace is swift except for some of the longer books within the book, which can drag. Observant readers will appreciate the clever puns and turns of phrase as well as the deeper meanings of some characters' names. Rich musical theater content will delight fans of that genre. Most characters are White.

An unusual journey of self-discovery. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20623-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more