Pleasantly and audaciously fills a gap in queer romance.

THE FALLING IN LOVE MONTAGE

A girl-girl rom-com packed with all the standard cheesy moments and raw emotions.

Having just completed her final exams, 17-year-old Saoirse heads into summer after high school with a lot on her plate: not wanting to attend prestigious Oxford, though her father’s set on it; navigating the anxiety and struggles of a mother suffering from early-onset dementia; and her father’s upcoming marriage to his new girlfriend, Beth. To postpone dealing with any of that, she heads to a party. There, she finds a cute girl to kiss—Ruby, visiting the seaside Irish town from her native England. Ruby adores romantic comedy films. To convert horror-loving Saoirse, Ruby proposes they try to complete a list of rom-com clichés over the summer. Commitment-phobic Saoirse’s keen to promote wholesome lesbian romance and to keep things casual. As they spend time together, however, it gets harder for Saoirse to follow her own relationship boundary rules. The novel’s voice is delightfully brash and no-nonsense while it simultaneously reveals Saoirse’s vulnerabilities as she deals with various feelings of betrayal. Smyth paints each character as a complex, messy, lifelike individual. Irish slang adds cultural texture to the story. Most characters are cued as white; Beth is English and brown-skinned.

Pleasantly and audaciously fills a gap in queer romance. (Romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-295711-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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The personal and the political intertwine in this engaging series opener.

DEFY THE NIGHT

The only effective treatment for the lethal fever that plagues Kandala is a potion derived from the rare Moonflower.

Medicine is allocated to each sector of the kingdom by the decree of King Harristan, but the supply is limited. Thieves, smugglers, and black marketeers are subject to punishment and execution overseen by the cruel Prince Corrick in his role as the King’s Justice. Like many in Kandala, Tessa Cade loathes the king and his younger brother for ignoring the plight of those who cannot afford treatment. With the help of her close friend Weston, the 18-year-old apothecary’s assistant steals Moonflower petals from the wealthy and makes potions to distribute among the poor. Soon after Wes is caught by the night patrol, Tessa is presented with an opportunity to sneak into the palace. She enters with the intention of taking a sample of the palace’s potent Moonflower elixir only to be captured and brought before Prince Corrick, who, Tessa discovers, might not be as heartless as she originally believed. The slow-burn romance—between an idealist with straightforward moral beliefs and a pragmatist trapped by duty—will keep the pages turning, as will the scheming of the king’s consuls and the rebellion brewing in the background. Tessa and Corrick are cued White; other characters’ skin colors range from beige to deep brown.

The personal and the political intertwine in this engaging series opener. (map, cast of characters) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0466-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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