Teens who enjoy novels in two voices will pick this up, but they will find little new. (Fiction. 14 & up)

THE BOY RECESSION

This novel with two protagonists has authentic teen voices but nothing new to say.

The students at Julius P. Heil High School are shaken up when several boys transfer out, losing "[t]welve percent of the population" and "sixty percent of the hotness." Boys like Hunter, a slacker who hangs out with Derek the pyromaniac and Eugene the beer supplier, suddenly become much more appealing. Kelly, a girl who just blends in, wonders how she can compete with the "spandexers." Amid budget cuts at their school, Kelly and Hunter become better friends by teaching music to third graders. When Hunter reveals his musical skills during the school talent show, spandexer Diva sinks her hooks into him. Kelly knows she's fallen for Hunter, and Hunter knows what a great girl Kelly is. Can these two teens find a way to make it work? The dialogue is witty and crisp, capturing the rhythms of teen conversations. This authenticity is reflected in profanity and mentions of underage drinking and pot-smoking. Male characters are particularly well-drawn, yet the plot is thin and standard.

Teens who enjoy novels in two voices will pick this up, but they will find little new. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-10213-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Poppy/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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An appealing spin on traditional fantasy elements.

WE HUNT THE FLAME

From the Sands of Arawiya series , Vol. 1

Threatened by the encroaching darkness of the Arz, the kingdom of Arawiya and its five caliphates can only be saved by an artifact that will restore magic to the land.

The caliphate of Demenhur is covered in snow where there once was sand, its people on the brink of starvation but for the efforts of the Hunter. Few know that the Hunter, able to navigate the cursed forests of the Arz, is actually 17-year-old Zafira, disguised as a man since women are perceived as tainted in Demenhur. Nasir is both prince and assassin, his targets the perceived enemies of his father, the tyrannical, abusive sultan. When Zafira is summoned to embark on a quest for the lost jewel, Nasir is sent after her, to take it and kill her. They are soon thrown together, first as enemies and then reluctant allies, by the secrets and whispers of an enemy who poses an even greater threat. Debut author Faizal paints a vivid world, inspired by ancient Arabia and its mythology, that will appeal to fantasy and romance readers as well as fans of the Assassin’s Creed video games. The prose is at times beautiful, at times awkward. Themes of morality and understanding others beyond stereotypes are present throughout, though some characters are not well-fleshed-out. Characters embody different physical characteristics, with humans ranging from pale to dark-brown skinned and various fantastical creatures.

An appealing spin on traditional fantasy elements. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-31154-4

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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