THE DEAD QUEENS CLUB

The scandals of 16th-century English royalty pale next to the political drama of 21st-century high school students in this fictionalized version of Lancaster, Indiana.

Annie Marck, aka Cleves (so called because she’s from Cleveland), and homecoming king Henry are BFFs (who dated for 15 days, making her girlfriend No. 4) and adrenaline junkies who have decided to embark on the ultimate senior year. Henry’s dating history isn’t without its setbacks. First, girlfriend No. 2, Anna Boleyn, died while allegedly trying to kill him; later, Katie Howard (No. 5 and Anna’s cousin) dies after Henry discovers she’s been cheating with football player Tom Culpeper. Cleves has a hard time believing he’s a murderer, but the evidence is piling up. Like his historical counterpart, Henry lives by a code of double standards, especially when it comes to cheating and number of girlfriends (six in two years). Also like Henry VIII, shallow and self-absorbed high school Henry isn’t easy to love. Witty narrator Cleves is a feminist force, lambasting slut-shaming and calling out her female classmates’ internalized misogyny. Readers who like mapping real-life figures onto fictional counterparts will read with Wikipedia open. Cleves was adopted from China and her sister from Malawi; otherwise, whiteness is assumed.

So much fun. (Fiction. 13-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-54223-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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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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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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