Overall, though, it’s very satisfying to see this moment in fandom and Internet-originating relationships so capably...

Two devoted members of an emotional cop drama’s fandom meet online and feel an instant bond.

Gena is a high-achieving senior at a ritzy boarding school, restless and yearning both socially and intellectually for college. Finn is 22, receiving a steady stream of job rejections and ambivalent about living with her boyfriend, Charlie. Finn writes Gena a note about a recent fic, Gena admires Finn’s fan art, and soon they’re in the throes of an intense friendship, emailing constantly, confiding details about their lives, and making plans to attend a fan convention together. At the convention, Gena is outed as a former child actor who starred in a popular sitcom with one of the leads of Up Below, and when Finn visits Gena at college, they both acknowledge their mutual attraction. Naturally, this intensity isn’t sustainable. The narrative is made up entirely of Gena’s fanfics, Finn’s art, emails, and text-message transcripts. Through it, readers learn that Gena’s parents fund a series of globe-trotting adventures using her sitcom earnings and that as she enters college, she’s no longer able to get treatment for the dangerous hallucinations that ended her acting career. Events come to a head after a tragic incident on the set of Up Below, and this concluding section is the novel’s one weak spot, vaguely petering out after a propulsive, assured beginning.

Overall, though, it’s very satisfying to see this moment in fandom and Internet-originating relationships so capably represented. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4521-3839-8

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016


Several yards short of a touchdown.

A transgender boy starting over at a new school falls hard for a popular cheerleader with a reputation to protect in this debut.

On the first day of senior year, transgender boy Pony locks eyes with cisgender cheerleader Georgia. They both have pasts they want to leave behind. No one at Hillcrest High knows that Pony is transgender, and he intends to keep it that way. Georgia’s last boyfriend shook her trust in boys, and now she’s determined to forget him. As mutual attraction draws them together, Pony and Georgia must decide what they are willing to risk for a relationship. Pony’s best friend, Max, who is also transgender, disapproves of Pony’s choice to live stealth; this disagreement leads to serious conflict in their relationship. Meanwhile, Georgia and Pony behave as if Pony’s trans identity was a secret he was lying to her about rather than private information for him to share of his own volition. The characters only arrive at a hopeful resolution after Pony pays high physical and emotional prices. McSmith places repeated emphasis on the born-in-the-wrong-body narrative when the characters discuss trans identities. Whiteness is situated as the norm, and all main characters are white.

Several yards short of a touchdown. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294317-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020


From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.

What happens to the world after the dust from a revolution has settled?

Friends Annie and Lee were children from very different circles when Atreus killed Lee’s father, dragonlord Leon Stormscourge, ending the uprising on the bloodiest day in Callipolis’ history. For too long the dragonriders held all the power while their people starved and lived in fear. Nine years later, a new generation of dragonriders is emerging, children selected and trained on merit, not bloodlines. Their dragons are finally mature enough for them to compete for Firstrider, a position of power that can give Lee back a small part of what his family lost. However, not only is Lee competing against Annie, but rumors are circulating that some of the royal family have survived and have dragons of their own. Everyone will have to make a choice: Restore the old regime, support the First Protector and the new caste system he created, or look for a new way, no matter what the cost. From the beginning, this book pulls readers in with political intrigue and action. What keeps them invested, however, are the complex relationships between many cast members. Choices are complex, and the consequences for all could be deadly. The world is well fleshed out and believable. Annie and Lee are light skinned; secondary characters are diverse, and race is a nonissue in this world.

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes. (author’s note) (Fantasy.14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51821-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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