An action-packed thriller, grounded in a futuristic Taiwan, with a strong dose of romance.

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RUSE

From the Want series , Vol. 2

In a polluted future, Zhou and Lingyi must overcome guilt over their friend’s death and stop a corrupt CEO from taking more lives.

In this sequel to Want (2017), Taiwanese Jason Zhou and Lingyi and their international group of street-wise, technology-savvy friends have destroyed Jin Corp’s headquarters in Taipei; Jin, the company’s multibillionaire leader, has returned to China. Their victory came at a high price: One of their group was killed while following Lingyi’s orders and Zhou was captured and unable to save him. Zhou finds solace in his secret relationship with Daiyu, Jin’s daughter, while Lingyi copes with recurring nightmares that even her girlfriend cannot defend against. Nevertheless, when Jany, Lingyi’s old friend in Shanghai, asks for her help, Lingyi responds at once. But when Jin has Jany murdered in order to steal her designs and prototype for a highly advanced air filter, Lingyi and her girlfriend turn to Zhou for help. Reunited, they return to their (occasionally unbelievable) skills in hacking and brawling to attempt to reclaim the air filter and strike another blow against Jin. But the group finds they cannot succeed without the help of Daiyu, someone even Zhou, possibly blinded by love and lust, has to agree is hiding things. While the central villain remains constant, Pon delves into relationships both romantic and platonic to balance the otherwise fast pace.

An action-packed thriller, grounded in a futuristic Taiwan, with a strong dose of romance. (Science fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1992-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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