At once a classic time-travel narrative and resonant fable about the price to be paid when we alter our world simply because...

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NO TRUE ECHO

Life in scenic but soggy Wellcome Valley is so dull that figuring out what to do during midterm break poses a major challenge until Scarlett White climbs on Eddie’s school bus and starts to unravel his world.

An infant when his scientist single mother died in a car crash, Eddie lives with his artist grandmother, loving but unstable, and hangs out with his best friend, Angus. Like the valley, home and school are predictably boring. Mr. Cornish, their passionately opinionated English teacher, livens things up when he assigns Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, making it an object lesson on hubris and abuses of power. As their friendship grows, Scarlett asks Eddie probing questions about his mother’s death yet is stubbornly secretive about herself. Smitten and intrigued, Eddie contrives to run into her outside school and discovers her spying on Mr. Cornish. Following her, Eddie witnesses a horrific murder that may be tied to his own parentage, then abruptly finds himself back on the school bus with Angus the day they met Scarlett—except this time she doesn’t get on the school bus, and only Eddie remembers she existed. Eddie’s voice is likable, smart without being snarky or florid.

At once a classic time-travel narrative and resonant fable about the price to be paid when we alter our world simply because we can, this smart, satisfying eco–techno-thriller with heart transcends genre . (Science fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0784-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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