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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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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An undemanding, wish-fulfillment romance.

PAPER HEARTS

From the Heartbreakers Chronicles series , Vol. 2

Another fluffy romance between a girl and a boy-band member, following The Heartbreakers (2015).

Four years ago, after her rebellious older sister, Rose, ran away, Felicity came up with a plan for her future, one designed to make her single mom happy: going to Harvard and becoming a lawyer—just like her absentee dad. It also means working, studying hard, and volunteering as much as she can, leaving little time for enjoying her summer with her best friends, Asha and Boomer. Then, volunteering at a charity ball, she meets the very cute, very reserved Alec, a member of the Heartbreakers. Sparks fly, but right before their first date, Felicity discovers a life-altering secret her mother has been keeping: Rose has been writing Felicity letters since she left. This sends Felicity on a quest to find Rose, accompanied by Alec, Asha, and Boomer. Along the way, she’ll have to come to grips with questions about lies, the truth, and whether her plans for the future will make her happy—can her happiness include Alec? The romance between Felicity and Alec is standard, from the meet-cute to the inevitable misunderstanding. There’s not really anything that elevates the characters or plot beyond the conventional, yet Novak handles it all with a light, deft touch. Save mixed-race Asha, whose mother is Indian and whose father is white, the cast of principals is an all-white one.

An undemanding, wish-fulfillment romance. (Romance. 14-16)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5336-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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