Danger romance at its most digestible, ready to be gobbled and forgotten.

TRUE

From the Elixir series , Vol. 3

If someone’s your true love, just stay devoted while he slams you into the wall and crushes your best friend’s hands until she passes out.

Clea and Sage are soul mates forever’n’ever—literally: They reincarnate as lovers lifetime after lifetime. When Sage’s body recently died, his soul leaped into the newly dead body of friend Nico and reanimated it. However, bodies can reject a new soul just as in organ transplantation (!), and Sage-in-Nico’s-body descends into “[m]adness and violence.” Is part of Nico’s soul still there, restless? Clea, Ben and Rayna travel to a charlatan’s clinic that might nonetheless hold information about “soul rejection.” Sage is portrayed as a tragic hero; Clea and Duff define love as unquestioningly sitting bedside with one’s lover even if he might awaken and kill you. Differing from the series opener (Elixir, 2010), this prose is plainspoken, with contemporary references (“a body that makes Ryan Gosling look like pre-diet Jonah Hill”) and vernacular (“so gross I can’t even deal”), but the very metaphysics are purple. Obviously it’s Sage’s soul operating Nico’s body because “[t]he eyes really are the windows to the soul,” and this live boy has brown eyes (like Sage, unlike Nico). Can a New-Age crystal ceremony permanently break the pattern of Ben’s betrayal and Clea’s bloody murder?

Danger romance at its most digestible, ready to be gobbled and forgotten. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0857-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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

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SIX OF CROWS

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

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An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work.

14 WAYS TO DIE

A teen sleuth tries livestreaming to catch a murderer.

Seventeen-year-old Jessica Simmons lost her mother a decade ago, the first victim of the Magpie Man, a serial killer now on victim No. 13, who has struck in locations around the U.K. Her father’s life is still in shambles and her former friends are long gone, but Jessica’s decided to publicize her tragedy. One of five contestants on YouTube’s “The Eye”—an unscripted, livestreamed reality show—Jessica asks her viewers to help identify the serial killer. But inviting the world into her home and school brings unwanted attention, perhaps even from the Magpie Man, whose body count keeps climbing: Sleuthing-related drama and peril ensue. Jessica’s friends and family are economically rendered yet believable, and Ralph renders grief beautifully and devastatingly, as something that evolves but doesn’t end. As in the story, the bulk of the action occurs when the cameras aren’t rolling, and eventually, the reality show premise and its minimally developed contestants are more a distraction and transparent deus ex machina than an integral part of Jessica’s journey. More intriguing—and with real-life precedents—is the possibility of crowdsourcing a murder investigation. Although the fast-paced finale can’t quite overcome the slow start and overlong middle, the tale reaches a dramatic, satisfactory conclusion. Characters follow a White default.

An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work. (resources, author interview) (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72823-186-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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