Intense, implausible, and impossible to put down

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FOUL IS FAIR

A teen and her best friends exact revenge on the prep school boys who raped her.

Elle, Mads, Jenny, and Summer are wealthy Los Angeles teens who crash a prep school party on Elle’s 16th birthday. After four boys spike Elle’s drink and rape her, the girls decide to kill them. Using her middle name, Jade, Elle enrolls in the boys’ private school and launches an elaborate scheme of manipulation and retaliation, choosing golden boy Mack, who is in their friend group, as her scapegoat for murder. But when Jade falls for Mack, her friends start to question her loyalties, and she must decide how far she’ll go. Rhythmic, propulsive prose drives this bloody retelling of Macbeth at a relentless pace all the way to its violent end. Readers will find little moral or emotional complexity in these pages and hardly any character development or examination of the self-destructive power of vengeance. What they will find, after they leave their disbelief at the door, is a steadfast sisterhood repaying heedless assault with red-hot rage; and perhaps, in the age of #MeToo, that is enough to begin with. Jade’s father is an Indian immigrant (her mother’s ethnicity is not mentioned), dark-skinned transgender Mads has a Latinx name, Jenny is implied Korean, and Summer is bisexual. Besides a backstory involving transphobic bullying, none of these identities go much beyond name and appearance. Other key characters are white.

Intense, implausible, and impossible to put down (. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-23954-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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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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