Beautifully written—but after such polished, elegant storytelling, the end feels like a betrayal.

THE VIEW FROM WHO I WAS

She’s beautiful, popular, athletic, brilliant, rich and in love—yet Oona Antunes feels herself divide into two selves at the Winter Formal on the night she takes her own life.

Frostbitten, battered and bruised, Oona is rescued after her heart stopped beating. Both selves undergo a harsh, invigorating rebirth, and one starts to rebuild relationships: with her unhappy parents (distant father, embittered mother), the best friend she’s outgrown and the boy who loves her. Partly healed, Oona (already admitted to Yale) agrees to spend a week providing college-application advice to gifted students at an American Indian boarding school in New Mexico. The experience—especially her friendship with a Navajo girl—grounds Oona, pointing her way forward. The unnamed narrator, one of Oona’s halves (she terms the other “Corpse”), has a gripping, elegiac voice that invites readers’ trust. The wintry Colorado-mountain-town setting and enormous, cold Antunes mansion skillfully echo the water tropes in plot and theme. The story winds to a peak of tension, then collapses at the end like a house of cards. Big questions remain—why Oona chose this night, this route; why she split in two—whereas explanations provided not only fail to justify suicide, they consign her to secondary status in her own story.

Beautifully written—but after such polished, elegant storytelling, the end feels like a betrayal. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7387-4174-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Flux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

10 BLIND DATES

Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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An overall entertaining read.

THE PRETENDERS

From the Similars series , Vol. 2

In this sequel to The Similars (2018), tensions rise as the villains reveal a ploy to exact revenge on the Ten and their families and ultimately take over the world.

When Emma Chance returns to her elite boarding school, Darkwood Academy, for her senior year, things are different: Her best friend, Ollie Ward, is back while Levi Gravelle, Ollie’s clone and Emma’s love interest, has been imprisoned on Castor Island. More importantly, Emma is coming to terms with the contents of a letter from Gravelle which states that she is Eden, a Similar created to replace the original Emma, who died as a child. To complicate matters further, other clones—who are not Similars—infiltrate Darkwood, and Emma and her friends uncover a plot that threatens not only the lives of everyone they care about, but also the world as they know it. Hanover wastes no time delving right into the action; readers unfamiliar with the first book may get lost. This duology closer is largely predictable and often filled with loopholes, but the fast-paced narrative and one unexpected plot twist make for an engaging ride. As before, most of the primary characters read as white, and supporting characters remain underdeveloped. Despite its flaws and often implausible turns of events, the novel calls attention to larger questions of identity, selfhood, and what it means to be human.

An overall entertaining read. (Dystopia. 13-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6513-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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