This plotless, grandiloquent slice of life will appeal to readers working their way up to Ayn Rand and Tom Robbins.

KING DORK APPROXIMATELY

A stylized, meandering sequel to King Dork (2006).

Tom Henderson’s new adventure begins where King Dork ended: in 1999, after a brutal tuba attack preceding the Christmas vacation of Tom’s sophomore year. Despite his brief sexual successes before this volume’s opening, he’s still alone but for his only friend, Sam. Their dork solidarity against the “normal” tormenting thugs of Hillmont High is doomed, however. The fall semester’s scandals have led to Hillmont’s closure, and the two boys are off to separate high schools. Now Sam’s listening to getting-the-girl motivational tapes, giving Tom advice steeped in toxic misogyny. Tom’s disturbed by Clearview High’s seemingly sincere school spirit; it reminds him of the perky normalcy of Happy Days or Grease. Tom gets his first girlfriend and discovers that getting along with others is not all it’s cracked up to be. He’s a CD-hating, vinyl-worshipping proto-hipster who, along with Sam, refers to his favorite albums by catalog number—“I actually might like EKS 74071 better than EKS 74051”—guaranteeing that neither their classmates nor the novel’s readers will be able to participate in the conversation. Meticulously described historical elements—Tom’s sister’s obsession with the family landline, the boys’ hatred of modern CD music formats, Sam’s dorky, holstered, clunky cellphone—are conspicuous in this otherwise modern-seeming story.

This plotless, grandiloquent slice of life will appeal to readers working their way up to Ayn Rand and Tom Robbins. (Historical fiction. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-73618-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Forgettable. (Fiction. 14-16)

HIT

A dual-narrator novel explores the concept of forgiveness.

Budding poet Sarah is torn between two colleges: Mills, which has offered her a full scholarship, and the University of Washington, whose only appeal is Mr. Haddings. A grad student and poet-in-residence at her school, the charismatic Haddings has Sarah considering a change of plans, to the dismay of Sarah’s controlling mother. Haddings knows he needs to keep the relationship professional, but he’s having a hard time with that. Then, in a moment of distraction, Haddings hits Sarah with his car. Over the next three days, Sarah will cope with the pain, the accident and her worries about her future, while her family—oblivious father, brittle mother and immature brother—and her best friend try to help her. Haddings copes with his crushing guilt, usually making choices that make everything worse. Straining credulity, both Sarah and Haddings wonder if there might be a chance for them still, when the more important question is whether they can ever forgive. Plot events are sequenced poorly and depend far too much on coincidence for their effect; the dual narrative does not provide substantial additional insight, making it feel contrived as well. Stilted dialogue makes characters feel flat, particularly Sarah’s brother.

Forgettable. (Fiction. 14-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-310-7295-0-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blink

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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