A little patience pays ample dividends in a suspenseful tale wrought from power chords, creeping darkness, and disquieting...

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LAST THINGS

A secret war comes to a small Minnesota town as teenagers fight both literal and figurative demons.

Lit up by the inspired writing and axe work of frontman Anders Thorson, the metal band Last Things has begun to draw more than local notice even though its members aren’t yet out of high school. But along with uneasy memories of a conversation with a strange visitor who left him with a guitar and a promise that all his dreams of rock stardom would be coming true, Anders is increasingly weighed down with a feeling that his wild talents came out of nowhere and could just as easily disappear. There’s something to that insight, it turns out—as in alternating chapters Thea, a peculiarly inconspicuous recent arrival, sees the seemingly ordinary town hemmed in by dark forces and Anders in imminent danger of surrendering to them out of ignorance. West (The Collectors, 2018, etc.) goes for a slow build while framing her two narrators as one music-smitten teen approaching a realistic stay-or-go crossroads in his life and another who could well be just an oddball….Anders eventually finds not only his music, but the very lives of everyone he cares about threatened. Fortunately, come the wild, scary climax, Thea turns out to be much more than she appears. The cast is evidently all white.

A little patience pays ample dividends in a suspenseful tale wrought from power chords, creeping darkness, and disquieting twists. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-287506-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Though no punches are pulled about the unimaginable atrocity of the death camps, a life-affirming history

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  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner

THE LIBRARIAN OF AUSCHWITZ

A teenage girl imprisoned in Auschwitz keeps the secret library of a forbidden school.

Dita Adlerova, 14, is confined in the notorious extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Compared to her fellow inmates, Dita’s relatively lucky. The several thousand residents of camp BIIb are inexplicably allowed to keep their own clothing, their hair, and, most importantly, their children. A young man named Fredy Hirsch maintains a school in BIIb, right under the noses of the Nazis. In Fredy’s classroom, Dita discovers something wonderful: a dangerous collection of eight smuggled books. The tale, based on the real life of Dita Polach Kraus and the events of 1944 and 1945, intertwines the stories of several real people: Dita, Fredy, several little-known war heroes, even a grim cameo from Anne and Margot Frank. Holocaust-knowledgeable readers will have suspicions about how many characters will die horribly (spoiler alert: this is Auschwitz). Yet somehow, myriad storylines told by multiple narrators offer compelling narrative tension. Why does BIIb exist? Will Rudi and Alice have a romance? What’s Fredy’s secret? Will Dr. Mengele subject Dita to his grotesque experiments? Dita’s matter-of-fact perspective, set in a slow build from BIIb to the chaotic starvation of the war’s end, both increases the horror and makes it bearable to read.

Though no punches are pulled about the unimaginable atrocity of the death camps, a life-affirming history . (Historical fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-618-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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