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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2020


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

Did you like this book?

Necessary, important, honest, loving, and true.


A gut-wrenching look at how addiction affects a family and a town.

Emory Ward, 16, has long been invisible. Everyone in the town of Mill Haven knows her as the rich girl; her workaholic parents see her as their good child. Then Emory and her 17-year-old brother, Joey, are in a car accident in which a girl dies. Joey wasn’t driving, but he had nearly overdosed on heroin. When Joey returns from rehab, his parents make Emory his keeper and try to corral his addictions with a punitive list of rules. Emory rebels in secret, stealing small items and hooking up with hot neighbor Gage, but her drama class and the friends she gradually begins to be honest with help her reach her own truth. Glasgow, who has personal experience with substance abuse, bases this story on the classic play Our Town but with a twist: The characters learn to see and reach out to each other. The cast members, especially Emory and Joey, are exceptionally well drawn in both their struggles and their joys. Joey’s addiction is horrifying and dark, but it doesn’t define who he is. The portrayal of small-town life and its interconnectedness also rings true. Emory’s family is White; there is racial diversity in the supporting cast, and an important adult mentor is gay. Glasgow mentions in her author’s note that over 20 million Americans struggle with substance abuse; she includes resources for teens seeking help.

Necessary, important, honest, loving, and true. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-70804-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 14

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller


Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

Did you like this book?