Chick-lit on steroids.

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SECRETS AND LIES

From the Capital Girls series , Vol. 2

In Washington, politics permeates everything, even the relationships of its adolescents in this second installment in the Capital Girls series.

This sequel assumes knowledge of major events in the first book and of characters introduced earlier as well. The story mostly follows Jackie, girlfriend to the female president’s son Andrew and daughter to her chief of staff; Laura Beth, daughter of the resolutely Southern widow of a major Republican operative; Whitney, who enjoys manipulating her friends even more than do the others; and Lettie, daughter of unaccountably financially poor parents. All except Lettie come across as privileged, spoiled, scheming and selfish and, frankly, may be difficult for readers to like. The convoluted plot turns on a car accident from the previous book; only the girls know that Andrew was driving at the time. Now someone is stalking Jackie, so she stays at the White House for safety. Monroe (a pseudonym for two co-authors) throws in the obligatory chick-lit focus on fashion, swerving the narrative to New York so Jackie can model for a famous designer, and label-drops with abandon. The broad emphasis of the book, however, appears to be the politics, in a general sense, inherent in the rivalries among the girls. The crowded plots and subplots create confusion amid the hope that these uber-sophisticated, entitled girls never take the reins of government.

Chick-lit on steroids. (Chick-lit. 12-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-62305-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful.

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SALT TO THE SEA

January 1945: as Russians advance through East Prussia, four teens’ lives converge in hopes of escape.

Returning to the successful formula of her highly lauded debut, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys combines research (described in extensive backmatter) with well-crafted fiction to bring to life another little-known story: the sinking (from Soviet torpedoes) of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff. Told in four alternating voices—Lithuanian nurse Joana, Polish Emilia, Prussian forger Florian, and German soldier Alfred—with often contemporary cadences, this stints on neither history nor fiction. The three sympathetic refugees and their motley companions (especially an orphaned boy and an elderly shoemaker) make it clear that while the Gustloff was a German ship full of German civilians and soldiers during World War II, its sinking was still a tragedy. Only Alfred, stationed on the Gustloff, lacks sympathy; almost a caricature, he is self-delusional, unlikable, a Hitler worshiper. As a vehicle for exposition, however, and a reminder of Germany’s role in the war, he serves an invaluable purpose that almost makes up for the mustache-twirling quality of his petty villainy. The inevitability of the ending (including the loss of several characters) doesn’t change its poignancy, and the short chapters and slowly revealed back stories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning.

Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful. (author’s note, research and sources, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-16030-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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