A glitzy bloodbath with the most ironic title ever.



Celebrities, romance, and carnage on the high seas.

It’s pretty skeevy for a meet-cute, but when 17-year-old Laurel vomits on 19-year-old Tom’s shoes, it’s destiny—and foreshadows flavors to come. Laurel’s on this luxury weight-loss cruise to keep a friend company; Tom’s there as a television host, trying to wrangle his child-star career into something more serious. The ritzy cruise is sponsored by Solu, a sugar substitute and weight-loss catalyst that’s supposedly a “solu”-tion for fatness. Tom declines Solu because of his strict “clean eating” diet; Laurel declines from seasickness and wariness. At first, Solu’s effects are merely preposterous, causing a 13-pound weight loss in two days. But soon passengers become walking, tooth-dropping cadavers, so addicted—think heroin times meth times vampires—that they’re rioting and committing frenzied murder to drink one another’s Solu-filled blood. With former competitors from Survivor and The Bachelorette aboard, the who-will-survive plot works well, fast-paced yet farcically cheesy. (Tom can identify someone’s “schizoid break” because “I did a guest star on Criminal Minds”; then again, according to Laurel, he’s “so frickin’ manly.”) Tom and Laurel alternate narrating, their first-person voices indistinguishable. The wealthy passengers’ superior obliviousness seeps into the text, as when Laybourne calls the multiracial ship crew “a walking United Nations” and a black girl “strong and angry.”

A glitzy bloodbath with the most ironic title ever. (Horror. 13 & up)

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05519-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This story is necessary. This story is important.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • New York Times Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?

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


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet