Good intrigue designed for the chick-lit crowd.

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TRUTH OR DARE

From the Truth or Dare series , Vol. 1

A well-plotted suspense tale aims itself at the Pretty Little Liars fan base.

Two wealthy BFFs, Caitlin and Tenley, suspect that Sydney, a scholarship girl they’ve always disliked, lurks behind a nasty truth-or-dare game targeted at them. They don’t know that Sydney also receives menacing notes threatening to expose the three girls’ hidden pasts. The girls strive to overachieve: Caitlin’s mother pressures her to get into Harvard, so she takes on far too many extracurricular activities; Tenley’s mother insists that she continue winning teen beauty contests; Sydney uses her passion for photography to escape from the pressures of high school society. Serious tensions abound in all three of the girls’ families, and all try to hide confidential problems: Caitlin hasn’t truly recovered from being kidnapped as a child; Tenley has had breast augmentation; Sydney has a craving to set fires. Numerous possible suspects surface, although Green doesn’t drop any noticeable hints that would tip readers off to the solution. This, when revealed, leads to suspense and a major surprise and propels readers into the next installment in the series. Befitting its genre, the story focuses on popular, beautiful girls, turmoil over boys (all of them devastatingly handsome) and girl-girl rivalries. As it switches the point of view among the three girls, the story moves ahead nicely and should hold readers’ interest quite well.

Good intrigue designed for the chick-lit crowd. (Suspense. 12 & up)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-316-22036-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Poppy/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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