Moral subtlety loses out to breathless pacing; the ending is derivative of Scott Westerfeld’s superior Uglies (2005).

POSSESSION

This debut dystopia succeeds at suspense and tension but fails at moral complexity.

Vi lives in the beige Goodlands, where good people wear required “oatmeal-colored shirts” and, by prohibition, never hug or touch. But Vi does touch and kiss her boyfriend Zenn, and she crosses forbidden borders and unplugs herself from mandatory brainwashing transmissions. She explains early on that “Goodies are walking paper dolls, devoid of personality—and brains” while authoritarian Thinkers “do the thinking so regular people won’t have to.” Unlike speculative fiction that successfully questions whether eliminating wars and providing adequate food for everyone might be worth losing cultural freedoms, this tale manages neither nuance nor ambiguity. Vi escapes from prison with hottie rebel Jag and travels to seek asylum, pursued by Thinkers of unknown loyalty, slowly realizing that she and Jag can control others. They lie to each other constantly, their supposedly deep love reading like simple sexual chemistry. Vi’s voice is sarcastic—“we were in the park after dark (gasp!)”—with random bits of teen syrup (Jag has “blueberry eyes”). Revelations come hard and fast but don’t feel meaningful, due to thin worldbuilding and sketchy details; in this society, how could Vi possibly understand a concept like “rights”?

Moral subtlety loses out to breathless pacing; the ending is derivative of Scott Westerfeld’s superior Uglies (2005). (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2125-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s.

GRIS GRIMLY'S FRANKENSTEIN

A slightly abridged graphic version of the classic that will drive off all but the artist’s most inveterate fans.

Admirers of the original should be warned away by veteran horror artist Bernie Wrightson’s introductory comments about Grimly’s “wonderfully sly stylization” and the “twinkle” in his artistic eye. Most general readers will founder on the ensuing floods of tiny faux handwritten script that fill the opening 10 pages of stage-setting correspondence (other lengthy letters throughout are presented in similarly hard-to-read typefaces). The few who reach Victor Frankenstein’s narrative will find it—lightly pruned and, in places, translated into sequences of largely wordless panels—in blocks of varied length interspersed amid sheaves of cramped illustrations with, overall, a sickly, greenish-yellow cast. The latter feature spidery, often skeletal figures that barrel over rough landscapes in rococo, steampunk-style vehicles when not assuming melodramatic poses. Though the rarely seen monster is a properly hard-to-resolve jumble of massive rage and lank hair, Dr. Frankenstein looks like a decayed Lyle Lovett with high cheekbones and an errant, outsized quiff. His doomed bride, Elizabeth, sports a white lock à la Elsa Lanchester, and decorative grotesqueries range from arrangements of bones and skull-faced flowers to bunnies and clownish caricatures.

Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s. (Graphic classic. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-186297-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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