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

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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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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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FOLLOW ME

From the Amateurs series , Vol. 2

The teenage detectives from The Amateurs (2016) return, sent on a chase by their adversary.

It’s three months after Seneca, Aerin, Maddox, and Madison discovered who killed Seneca’s mother and Aerin’s sister, but the escape of the killer—their former friend, Brett—is haunting them. Then Chelsea Dawson, an Instagram-obsessed white girl, disappears. The next day, the disappearance is inexplicably posted on Case Not Closed, a cold-case message board, with a post from Brett that draws the Amateurs’ suspicions. While biracial Seneca takes the lead in the investigation, torn between catching Brett and dealing with her confusing feelings for white boy Maddox, white girl Aerin is weepy and distracted by thoughts of her sister. Korean-American Madison barely registers in solving the case or with readers, and Maddox seems mostly concerned about how white boy Jeff, Chelsea’s ex and a suspect in her disappearance, is apparently putting the moves on Seneca. Throughout the novel, Brett is spinning his web to teach Chelsea a lesson and make the Amateurs realize they’re outclassed. While there’s enough back story to explain their first case, the immature and two-dimensional foursome are amateurs in both name and ability. Unlike the first, this so-called mystery is utterly lacking in suspense or tension, overflows with leaps of logic, and offers nothing to indicate the teen detectives are any match for Brett—a fatal flaw.

Skip. (Mystery. 14-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-4228-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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