A captivating story of a reluctant hero that will leave readers eagerly anticipating the next installment.

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Ruthless mercenaries invade a posh New England prep school and confront resourceful teens in this high-stakes YA thriller.

Seventeen-year-old Cade Dixon is part Holden Caulfield, part Jason Bourne, with a touch of MacGyver. He was raised by a single mother whose administrative position at a prep school enables him to attend. He covertly sells homework assignments to his wealthy classmates and harbors a crush on a student named Kira but hasn’t yet kissed a girl. He’s inordinately curious, highly intelligent, and knows every hiding place in the school. These characteristics, combined with his mastery of mixed martial arts, make him a terrific foil for brilliant, diabolical criminal mastermind Reilly, who’s employed 14 heavily armed men to lay siege to the school. He has sophisticated, encrypted communication devices enabling him to jam all cellphones and electronics on campus and to tap into law enforcement agencies’ feeds. Cade avoids the initial student roundup and works to prevent what horrors he can; he manages to get his mother released, enlist Kira’s aid, and inflict serious injury on some henchmen. Meanwhile, Reilly announces his plan: The 10 richest parents of the hostages must transfer as much money as they can raise in an hour into an offshore account. The child whose parents raise the least will be executed. The story’s pacing is taut and its tension intense, but it’s tempered by the enjoyable pairing of Cade and Kira. Both are supersmart, funny kids whose knowledge base includes physics, chemistry, psychology, and even Morse code to help them outfox Reilly. Apt high school references abound, as when Cade notes that a weaponized 1922 school trophy is solid metal because “back then you only gave out one”—no participation awards necessary. Kira pulls off a few acts that are reminiscent of Katniss Everdeen’s exploits because, due to the popularity of The Hunger Games and Brave, “every girl in school had been obsessed with all things archery.” The book’s positive depictions of female roles and slyly understated politics are also appealing.

A captivating story of a reluctant hero that will leave readers eagerly anticipating the next installment.

Pub Date: April 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73469-241-9

Page Count: 258

Publisher: Waterfall Films, LLC

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Fans of empowering feminist fairy-tale retellings will love this.


From the Grimrose Girls series , Vol. 1

Four reimagined fairy-tale heroines must confront their inner demons to break a curse.

Ella, Yuki, and Rory attend the prestigious Grimrose Académie for Elite Students in the Swiss Alps. They are currently grieving the death of one of their best friends, and while Ari’s death by drowning has been deemed either an accident or suicide, her closest friends have their doubts. When they find an old book of fairy tales hidden in Ari’s things, full of strange annotations in her handwriting, the girls start working—along with new student Nani—to investigate Ari’s suspicious death. As they put together the pieces and discover other deaths that happened at Grimrose, they start to wonder if there was magic involved in Ari’s death—magic that may also be at the core of their very lives, cursing them to unhappy endings. Grief, identity, and friendship intersect in this enthralling mystery with dark magical undertones that ingeniously plays with fairy-tale tropes to tell a feminist story about empowerment and grappling with how to break away from the confines of societal expectations of girls. Reminiscent of the works of Anna-Marie McLemore and Elana K. Arnold, this book ends with the promise of more to come. The main cast is queer and features diversity in disability and mental health. Rory and Ella default to White; Yuki’s name cues her as Japanese, and Nani is Black and Native Hawaiian.

Fans of empowering feminist fairy-tale retellings will love this. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-887-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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A must-read with a conclusion that will leave readers craving more.

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A monster spreads madness through the streets of Shanghai.

It is the autumn of 1926, and Shanghai is poised at the brink of transformation. Foreign powers have carved out portions of the city for themselves; what remains is divided between two feuding gangs, the Chinese Scarlet Gang and the Russian White Flowers. Eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai has returned home from New York City, wreathed in a reputation for ruthlessness and ready to step into her role as heir to the Scarlet Gang. Four years ago, a betrayal by the White Flowers heir, Roma Montagov, a young man of 19, led to the deaths of countless Scarlets, and Juliette is determined to avenge her gang. But when a lethal contagion strikes the city, targeting Scarlets and White Flowers alike, Juliette and Roma grudgingly agree to cooperate on an investigation in order to save their city. The slow-burning romance in this book takes a back seat to the gripping mystery grounded in immersive historical detail. Allusions to Romeo and Juliet are evident in names and specific scenes, but familiar themes of family, loyalty, and identity bear new significance in Gong’s inventive adaptation. Language is a tool wielded deftly by the multilingual characters, who switch easily among English, French, Shanghainese, Russian, and more, with Mandarin as the primary dialect for Chinese phrases. A strong supporting cast that includes a trans girl completes this striking debut.

A must-read with a conclusion that will leave readers craving more. (Historical fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5769-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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