Younge-Ullman’s subtle approach to narrative pacing allows readers to accompany Ingrid on her journey to fully confront and...

EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IS NOT RUINED

On a three-week wilderness adventure in Northern Ontario arranged by her mother, Ingrid is tested in unexpected ways.

Utterly surprised when the camping trip turns out not to be cabins and day hikes but rugged hiking and canoeing, Ingrid is nonetheless determined to find her “inner Nature Girl” and prove that she’s mature enough to spend her senior year at school in London, England. Ingrid punctuates her first-person narrative of the three weeks with journal entries in the form of letters to her mother, in which she sarcastically recounts the daily annoyances of the “shit hole” she finds herself in. The present-day account is interspersed with past-tense chapters detailing a childhood spent traveling around Europe with her mother, a world-famous opera star who stopped performing when Ingrid was 11. The two parts of her life seem strangely juxtaposed, but as Ingrid reflects on what brought her to this moment—the adjustment to public school in Toronto, the bullying, the message from her mother that she had no musical talent, as well as hints of some deeper emotional events—she begins to recognize the strength of character and leadership qualities that lie within her. With just three characters explicitly of color, Ingrid and the novel default to white.

Younge-Ullman’s subtle approach to narrative pacing allows readers to accompany Ingrid on her journey to fully confront and accept her past as she discovers her own true voice . (Fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-425-28759-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Bound to be popular.

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES

From the Ember in the Ashes series , Vol. 1

A suddenly trendy trope—conflict and romance between members of conquering and enslaved races—enlivened by fantasy elements loosely drawn from Arabic tradition (another trend!).

In an original, well-constructed fantasy world (barring some lazy naming), the Scholars have lived under Martial rule for 500 years, downtrodden and in many cases enslaved. Scholar Laia has spent a lifetime hiding her connection to the Resistance—her parents were its leaders—but when her grandparents are killed and her brother’s captured by Masks, the eerie, silver-faced elite soldiers of the Martial Empire, Laia must go undercover as a slave to the terrifying Commandant of Blackcliff Military Academy, where Martials are trained for battle. Meanwhile, Elias, the Commandant’s not-at-all-beloved son, wants to run away from Blackcliff, until he is named an Aspirant for the throne by the mysterious red-eyed Augurs. Predictably, action, intrigue, bloodshed and some pounding pulses follow; there’s betrayal and a potential love triangle or two as well. Sometimes-lackluster prose and a slight overreliance on certain kinds of sexual violence as a threat only slightly diminish the appeal created by familiar (but not predictable) characters and a truly engaging if not fully fleshed-out fantasy world.

Bound to be popular. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: April 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59514-803-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 2

Lara Jean's romantic entanglements complicate themselves further.

In the wake of the events detailed in To All the Boys I Loved Before (2014), Lara Jean confesses her love for handsome golden boy Peter. This frees the pair to start a romantic relationship with a clean slate, but over the course of the novel it becomes clear that embarking on a relationship that turns an aggressive blind eye to baggage is never a good idea. When a viral video of a steamy love session between Peter and Lara Jean rears its ugly head and a boy from the past enters Lara Jean's life once more, Lara Jean's life gets complicated. Every character from Han’s adored previous novel is back, with new dimensions given to nearly every one of them. Subplots abound, among them two involving Lara Jean's father and Peter's ex-gal Genevieve, but benefitting most from this second look is John Ambrose McClaren, a boy briefly referenced in the former book who is thrust into the spotlight here as Peter's rival for Lara Jean's heart. With all these characters bouncing around, Han occasionally struggles to keep a steady hand on the novel's primary thrust: Lara Jean’s emotional development. Han gets the job done in the end, but this overeventful sequel pales to the original where structure is concerned. The author's greatest success remains her character work, and the book does indeed give everyone a solid arc, narrative be damned.

A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2673-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2015

Did you like this book?

more