Lord of the Flies this ain't, but it is a pretty decent adventure story, and readers will eagerly await the second volume

MONUMENT 14

From the Monument 14 series , Vol. 1

A staggering natural disaster maroons a handful of teens and younger children in a suburban Colorado big-box department store.

An ordinary morning school-bus ride almost instantly goes wrong when a sudden, bizarre hailstorm wrecks Dean's bus to the high school and sends the elementary/middle school bus through the wall of a nearby Greenway. Heroically, driver Mrs. Wooly goes back to rescue the surviving high school kids and then ventures back out into the chaos for help. While the kids wait—and it will surprise no one when Mrs. Wooly fails to return—they sort out power relationships and monitor events on the outside as best they can. As the days go by, these relationships shift; not surprisingly, some kids are better at survival than others. The introduction of a couple of adults into their self-contained universe threatens the delicate balance. The storytelling takes some shortcuts. The near-future setting seems to derive mostly from the narrative necessity of keeping the lights on (solar arrays on the roof power the store); a chemical-agent cocktail that escapes NORAD conveniently manifests dramatically different symptoms depending on victims' blood types. But characterization is strong—the children emerge as fully as the teens—and narrator Dean keeps the pages turning. And there's no beating the ingenuity of the Greenway setting, where apparently everything these kids need is at their fingertips.

Lord of the Flies this ain't, but it is a pretty decent adventure story, and readers will eagerly await the second volume . (Adventure. 13-16)

Pub Date: June 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-56903-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice.

THE FIELD GUIDE TO THE NORTH AMERICAN TEENAGER

A teenage, not-so-lonely loner endures the wilds of high school in Austin, Texas.

Norris Kaplan, the protagonist of Philippe’s debut novel, is a hypersweaty, uber-snarky black, Haitian, French-Canadian pushing to survive life in his new school. His professor mom’s new tenure-track job transplants Norris mid–school year, and his biting wit and sarcasm are exposed through his cataloging of his new world in a field guide–style burn book. He’s greeted in his new life by an assortment of acquaintances, Liam, who is white and struggling with depression; Maddie, a self-sacrificing white cheerleader with a heart of gold; and Aarti, his Indian-American love interest who offers connection. Norris’ ego, fueled by his insecurities, often gets in the way of meaningful character development. The scenes showcasing his emotional growth are too brief and, despite foreshadowing, the climax falls flat because he still gets incredible personal access to people he’s hurt. A scene where Norris is confronted by his mother for getting drunk and belligerent with a white cop is diluted by his refusal or inability to grasp the severity of the situation and the resultant minor consequences. The humor is spot-on, as is the representation of the black diaspora; the opportunity for broader conversations about other topics is there, however, the uneven buildup of detailed, meaningful exchanges and the glibness of Norris’ voice detract.

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-282411-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

10 BLIND DATES

Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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