Ostensibly an adventure tale, the slow pacing leaches energy from the central mystery of the virus, its cause and the...

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NO EASY WAY OUT

Over 1,500 people die from a flu strain released into an air vent in a crowded shopping mall, and the quarantined survivors descend into chaos in this protracted second installment of the story begun in No Safety in Numbers (2012).

As in the first, four ethnically and economically diverse teens share an alternating third-person focus. Lexi, the geeky daughter of a high-powered senator, is arguably the most sympathetic as she struggles with her relationship with her power-hungry mother. She becomes interested in Marco, who has forged an uneasy alliance with a pair of jocks who were his tormenters before the mall locked down. He is preoccupied with impressing Shay, who is filled with hopelessness and angst that is perhaps understandable given the circumstances, but many may lose patience with her. Shay is also the object of desire for Ryan, an athlete with principles that guide him to take care of two orphaned children. A great deal of time is spent in developing the characters, but they still come off as somewhat stiff. Inauthentic teen dialogue (“Well, frak him right in the ass”) is also likely to pull readers out of the story.

Ostensibly an adventure tale, the slow pacing leaches energy from the central mystery of the virus, its cause and the horrors surrounding it, making it more of a snoozer than a thriller. (Thriller. 14 & up)

Pub Date: July 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3874-4

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2013

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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