With the end always in sight, readers know from the get-go that this cosmic romance will be one wild ride.

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HOW I STOLE JOHNNY DEPP'S ALIEN GIRLFRIEND

Fourteen-year-old David Gershwin, who’s waiting for another growth spurt, is used to troubled teens staying at his famous therapist dad’s home in Normandy, France, but one in particular captures his attention: Zelda, a girl of Amazonian stature who claims to be from the planet Vahalal (where men are forbidden) and who’s looking for her “chosen one.” By Zook, this potential mate just happens to be Johnny Depp.

David’s over-the-top humorous narration drives this slim, fast-paced debut, which is reminiscent of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe. When he discovers that Zelda has secretly followed him to Paris, where his chain-smoking, designer-clothes–devotee mother lives, he vows to serve Zelda as her “Pudin” (comically confused as “pudding”) and enlists the help of his older quasi-stepsister Malou, whose playful banter often borders on flirtation. As they outrun police on the rooftops of Paris and spar with exile Valks on their zany pursuit, David experiences “gustative biochemistry” (a.k.a. his first kiss)—and more. Surrounded by so many tough females, he can’t help but finally muster some self-confidence, while no-nonsense, kickass Zelda, who claims that love is a sin on her planet, may be giving in to their “Earthling display of affection (EDA)” and re-evaluating her real chosen one.

With the end always in sight, readers know from the get-go that this cosmic romance will be one wild ride. (Science fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: June 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8118-7460-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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Second installments in trilogies sometimes slump—here’s hoping the third book is a return to the vibrancy of the...

CHILDREN OF VIRTUE AND VENGEANCE

From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 2

In this follow-up to Children of Blood and Bone (2018), Zélie and company are back, and the future of Orïsha hangs in the balance.

Zélie, now a maji Reaper, has achieved her goal and brought magic back to Orïsha, but at great cost. Grief and loss are strong themes throughout the book, compounded by guilt for Zélie, who feels responsible for her father’s death. Zélie and her older brother, Tzain, try to help Princess Amari ascend the throne, believing her family dead—but Queen Nehanda, Amari’s mother, is very much alive and more formidable than they could imagine. The trio join the Iyika, a band of rebel maji working to protect their persecuted people from threats new and old. Though the characters’ trauma reads as real and understandable, their decisions don’t always feel sensible or logical, often stemming from a lack of communication or forethought, which may leave readers frustrated. Though still commendable for its detailed worldbuilding, with an ending compelling enough to keep fans interested in the next installment, much of the book feels like navigating minefields of characters’ ill-advised decisions. All characters are black except for a secondary character with silky black hair, tan skin, and gray eyes “like teardrops.”

Second installments in trilogies sometimes slump—here’s hoping the third book is a return to the vibrancy of the first. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-17099-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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