SKYMAZE

Another computer game becomes as real as life—and death. Ben and Andrew, two of the winners of Space Demons (1989), order the next Japanese game: Skymaze. Linda and cool Mario, their former partners, also become involved again. So, unfortunately, do two uninvited new players: Darren, Ben's older brother, and Paul, son of Andrew's new stepfather. The six play out their antagonisms and shifting loyalties in a game that becomes so real that Mario nearly dies. In the end, fraternal rivalries are muted, if not resolved, while Mario has learned how much he means to his family. The strengths and weaknesses of Space Demons are also here: well-drawn characters exhibit realistically exasperating flashes of maturity and childishness; Linda and Mario's emerging sensuality becomes a bit more explicit but remains tentative; the game's similarity to life and the shadow it throws into the real world are still convincing. It does all seem familiar, still no more explanations (why Japan?) and no more resolution than offered earlier. Still, though not so fine or intriguing as Rubinstein's Beyond the Labyrinth (1990), a skillfully written, fast-moving story. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: April 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-531-05929-4

Page Count: 183

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1991

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY

Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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