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WRECKED

An intense story of love, friendship, and family that takes unexpected turns.

In this romantic thriller set against a backdrop of dangerous drug activity in the woods of Kentucky, two teens fall hard for one another while a third loses his way.

First-person narration alternates among three main characters in this winding, twisty mystery. Smart, thoughtful, mechanically inclined Miri yearns to escape her charismatic but strange father, who is a large-scale producer of crystal methamphetamine. She meets newcomer Fen, who’s moved there from Detroit to live with his dad, and is instantly drawn to him. This new relationship is deeply troubling to Clay, a slightly older friend of Miri’s family who has been on his own since his mother was sent to prison for cooking meth. The off-the-grid compound replete with huge gardens, free-range chickens, and menacing dogs where Miri lives is vividly imagined, providing a solid anchor for this contemporary story of troubled relationships and first love. Fen’s affinity for recording natural sounds as an art form is a captivating detail that helps flesh out the immediate connection between him and Miri. Readers will know early on that there’s more to his family’s backstory than is being revealed but may not suspect everything. An afterword by the author references Shakespeare’s The Tempest, but readers need not be familiar with it to be pulled in by this novel. All characters are White.

An intense story of love, friendship, and family that takes unexpected turns. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4424-5105-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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