Fans of the first book may overlook the uneven pacing, especially if they are engaged by Hope and Bran’s romantic tension...



From the Into the Dim series , Vol. 2

Two modern time-traveling groups vie for control of their shared time machine.

Into the Dim (2016) introduced white, 16-year-old Hope to the Viators, her family’s time-traveling group. While they attempt to minimize the influence of their travels on current events, a splinter group, the Timeslippers, more recklessly pursues its quest for power. The Timeslippers’ newest plan involves gaining control of the time machine through a meeting with Nikolas Tesla in 1895. When the Timeslippers’ leader’s son, Bran (who acts as a spy for the Viators thanks to his crush on Hope) alerts the rival group, they also travel to 1895 for a countermission. The New York City settings vividly expose America’s long history of socio-economic class divides, contrasting the luxury of the Waldorf Hotel against the horrific conditions of a mental hospital. But considering that the mission must be completed in 72 hours (or all travelers risk being trapped in 1895), an inordinate amount of time is spent on such frivolous activities as having fancy dresses made. These interludes derail the frantic pace readers expect from a time-sensitive adventure story. And though the Tesla storyline concludes, the Viators-Timeslippers conflict remains unresolved, leaving room for another installment. Most characters read as white, though one minor character is mixed-race (black/white).

Fans of the first book may overlook the uneven pacing, especially if they are engaged by Hope and Bran’s romantic tension and surprising back story. (Science fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-60957-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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