KATANA

From the Katana series , Vol. 1

An ordinary St. Louis teen finds that she has a distinctly un-ordinary legacy when she's attacked in a shopping-mall parking lot.

Until the assault that wakens a terrifying internal voice and preternatural martial-arts abilities, Rileigh has spent her time hanging with her gay BFF Quentin and mooning over hottie Whitley. Now she finds herself coping with the unwanted attention of the mysterious, sandalwood-scented hottie Kim, who insists that she take up training in his dojo. It seems he thinks that she is the reincarnation of his 15th-century lover; the two were samurai who died at the hands of an evil ninja. Now Kim wants to "awaken" her past self using the titular katana she wielded in her earlier life. She wants none of this, but does she have a choice? Is the reincarnation of the evil ninja behind the continuing attacks? Nothing about this debut surprises, from the stock characters to the turgid action scenes. Gibsen laces her narrative with holes: If Kim and Rileigh have been reincarnated multiple times and repeatedly drawn together by psychic destiny, why is there no hint of other past lives? And the writing is frequently downright amateurish, turning out ridiculous similes—"My heart spun in my chest, as if it were the wheel of a gerbil hopped up on Pixy Stix"—when it's not indulging in cliché—"With breakneck speed, I darted to the window and flattened myself against the wall."

Pass. (Paranormal romance. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7387-3040-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Flux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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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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