A Stranger Things–Twister mash-up for fans of (super)natural thrills.

THE GONE AWAY PLACE

A teen must face her own trauma even as she helps her dead friends find peace in Barzak’s (Wonders of the Invisible World, 2015, etc.) latest.

A fight with her boyfriend, Noah, about his friendship with a lonely girl ruins Ellie Frame’s day but, to her horror, also saves her life. After she drives away to nurse her anger, a series of tornadoes devastates her Midwestern town, hurtling a gas tanker into the high school and killing Ellie’s closest friends—and Noah. Survivor guilt plagues Ellie as she tries desperately to move forward as if all is well, a task made infinitely more difficult as the ghosts of her friends begin to appear and speak to her. Alternating between Ellie’s perspective and those of others in her community—survivors and ghosts alike—this narrative of testimony and bearing witness has an immediacy that draws readers in despite sometimes descending into oration with more telling than showing. It explores the functions of storytelling in helping the living cope and the dead reflect on events from the afterlife. The mystery of what is keeping the spirits from their final rest and the looming threat of ghosts with scores to settle create an absorbing read. All characters are white other than Ellie’s Latina therapist and Japanese-American friend.

A Stranger Things–Twister mash-up for fans of (super)natural thrills. (Thriller. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-55609-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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