A witty, wonderful introduction to the world of gaming that could have used more character development.

DON'T READ THE COMMENTS

When a famous teen gamer and an aspiring teen video game writer meet online, sparks fly.

When aspiring game writer Aaron Jericho meets gamer Divya Sharma online, he can’t believe it. Divya’s Glitch stream, where viewers watch her gaming, has over 100,000 subscribers, and sponsors constantly send her products like virtual reality devices and watches to review or wear (which she then sells for income). Little does Aaron know that the money Divya makes is critical—since her father left her mother, there’s hardly enough to pay the rent—or that she is constantly terrorized by trolls. The two strike up an unlikely friendship with the potential for romance, but threats from a group of trolls calling themselves Vox Populi threaten Divya’s privacy and personal safety. Smith’s (contributor: Color Outside the Lines, 2019, etc.) characters are achingly sincere, and his smooth and witty dialogue’s a pleasure to read. He artfully immerses the reader in the world of gaming, building characters and settings that are fun and compelling to read. However, while Aaron’s home and family life are fully developed, Divya—whose conflict is, arguably, the more interesting one—remains two dimensional. Particularly glaring are the minimal interactions between Divya and her mother, although protecting her mother is Divya’s main motivation for gaming. Aaron is of Honduran and Palestinian descent, and Divya is cued as South Asian.

A witty, wonderful introduction to the world of gaming that could have used more character development. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-335-01602-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist.

SHE'S GONE

Seventeen-year-old Hunter Gifford has no memories of the car accident he was in the night of the homecoming dance with Chloe Summers, his now-missing girlfriend.

In the small southern Kentucky city of Bentley, comments on social media condemn Hunter as responsible for Chloe’s disappearance. When he attends the community vigil for her, Chloe’s mother publicly accuses Hunter of obstructing the investigation. Hunter’s own mom died when he was 15 and his sister, Olivia, was 12. Their dad has awkwardly attempted to pull his weight as a solo parent, and Hunter has stepped in and nurtured Livvy. Small but mighty Livvy is an ardent defender of her brother and is fiercely in love with her girlfriend, Gabriela. To make things worse, childhood friend Daniel informs Hunter that he’s making a true-crime documentary about Chloe. Hunter is upset, especially since it makes him look like a prime suspect, and a subsequent dramatic event draws more attention to the video. Hunter and Chloe met in creative writing club, and he knew she kept a journal—but it’s missing. Enter the sleuthing team of Hunter, Livvy, and Gabriela, who hatch a plan to find it. The dynamics between Hunter and Livvy and Livvy and Gabriela are endearing and will charm readers, who will root for them to solve the well-executed mystery. Main characters default to White; Gabriela is Mexican American.

This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72825-420-3

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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