Like the TV show it’s about, nothing in this novel is as it seems, but the journey to discover the truth is out of this...



Ten teenagers are launched into “space” to entertain insatiable TV audiences in Damico’s satirical novel.

Everything on TV has already been done. Enter Chazz Young, the CEO of DV8 Productions. Chazz cooks up the idea to send 10 teens into space and to film everything. A shaky collaboration with the scientists of the National Association for the Study of Astronomy and Weightlessness and some expensive special effects result in Waste of Space. The teens aren’t actually in space, but they and viewers don’t know that. The cast checks every reality TV box, from the ambiguously “exotic” party girl to the black, gay diversity pick. As America tunes in, the teenagers overcome unrealistic space obstacles. Ratings go up, but behind the scenes, cast members are beginning to doubt they’re in space, Chazz is desperately trying to up the ante, and NASAW is working on a side project. Suddenly, all transmissions from the “ship” are stopped, and access to it is cut off. None of the teenagers (or Chazz) knows what’s going on. All they know is that they’re in trouble. Told in aired and unaired video transcripts, phone transcripts, and personal recordings, the information in this novel has been compiled by an unnamed intern-turned-whistleblower. Everything that happens is over-the-top and ludicrous but cleverly crafted, the cynicism slathered on with layers of foulmouthed geniality.

Like the TV show it’s about, nothing in this novel is as it seems, but the journey to discover the truth is out of this world. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-63316-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality.


Two teenage girls—Lena and Campbell—come together following a football game night gone wrong.

Campbell, who is white and new to Atlanta, now attends the school where Lena, who is black, is a queen bee. At a game between McPherson High and their rival, a racist slur leads to fights, and shots are fired. The unlikely pair are thrown together as they try to escape the dangers on campus only to find things are even more perilous on the outside; a police blockade forces them to walk through a dangerous neighborhood toward home. En route, a peaceful protest turns into rioting, and the presence of police sets off a clash with protestors with gruesome consequences. The book attempts to tackle racial injustice in America by offering two contrasting viewpoints via narrators of different races. However, it portrays black characters as violent and criminal and the white ones as excusably ignorant and subtly racist, seemingly redeemed by moments when they pause to consider their privileges and biases. Unresolved story arcs, underdeveloped characters, and a jumpy plot that tries to pack too much into too small a space leave the story lacking. This is not a story of friendship but of how trauma can forge a bond—albeit a weak and questionable one—if only for a night.

An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality. (Fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7889-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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