Whether readers will tolerate the contrivances of this book along the way is another matter.

READ REVIEW

UNBREAKABLE

What do you do for a follow-up when your heroine has already saved the universe?

You invent a new crisis, of course. After the events of Unraveling (2012), Janelle Tenner is dealing with the wreckage left behind and mourning the departure of her boyfriend, Ben, to the universe he came from. But she can’t enjoy even this relative stability, since Taylor Barclay, the annoying Interverse Agency operative from the last book, is back, seeking her help. A human-trafficking ring is snatching innocents from across the multiverse—including her best friend—and Ben is suspected of involvement. If she doesn’t help Barclay, all of Ben’s loved ones, herself among them, will be killed by the IA in just a few days. This allows the book to use the same countdown graphic that was so effective in the first, but, ghastly as human trafficking and state-sponsored torture are, they just don’t have the same consuming nature as the end of the universe. Moreover, in keeping Ben offstage for much of the book, Norris, perhaps unwittingly, sets up an intriguing chemistry between Janelle and Barclay that makes the Janelle-Ben romance a whole lot less compelling. Gigantic narrative flaws notwithstanding, Janelle remains a likable, kick-ass heroine, and the conclusion sets up an ongoing situation that promises smoother execution in the future.

Whether readers will tolerate the contrivances of this book along the way is another matter. (Science fiction/thriller/romance. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210376-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in...

DEAR MARTIN

In this roller-coaster ride of a debut, the author summons the popular legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. to respond to the recent tragic violence befalling unarmed black men and boys.

Seventeen-year-old black high school senior Justyce McAllister, a full-scholarship student at the virtually all-white Braselton Prep, is the focus. After a bloody run-in with the police when they take his good deed for malice, Justyce seeks meaning in a series of letters with his “homie” Dr. King. He writes, “I thought if I made sure to be an upstanding member of society, I’d be exempt from the stuff THOSE black guys deal with, you know?” While he’s ranked fourth in his graduating class and well-positioned for the Ivy League, Justyce is coming to terms with the fact that there’s not as much that separates him from “THOSE black guys” as he’d like to believe. Despite this, Stone seems to position Justyce and his best friend as the decidedly well-mannered black children who are deserving of readers’ sympathies. They are not those gangsters that can be found in Justyce’s neighborhood. There’s nuance to be found for sure, but not enough to upset the dominant narrative. What if they weren’t the successful kids? While the novel intentionally leaves more questions than it attempts to answer, there are layers that still remain between the lines.

Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in the face. Take interest and ask questions. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93949-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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