JAY'S GAY AGENDA

Senior year brings an entire list of changes to Jay’s life.

Jay, a gay 17-year-old, experiences a dramatic shift when his mother’s promotion to grocery store district manager transports their family from a small, not-very-diverse town in Eastern Washington to Seattle for his last year in high school. Jay will have to leave his best friend, Lu, but their friendship can survive the distance, right? It also means the chance to cross off items on Jay’s Gay Agenda, a list that ranges from finally meeting another gay boy (after being the only one who is out at his school) to, hopefully, going all the way. Things look up when Jay is taken under the wing of exuberant, genderqueer Max, a new Seattle classmate who helps him make moves toward sexy (and fun) Tony and sexy (and endearing) Albert. The story will amuse readers who are looking for a light read, although the characters at times read more like sitcom versions of teenagers than the real things. While the overall tone is more slapstick and humorous, a subplot concerning orphaned Lu’s financial problems is handled with sensitivity. The coronavirus is mentioned in a context indicating that the story is set in the near post-pandemic future, after quarantines have ended. Most main characters are implied White; Albert is Chinese American, and secondary characters in Seattle reflect the diversity of the city.

Queer, fluffy fun. (Fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-301515-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 2

Lara Jean's romantic entanglements complicate themselves further.

In the wake of the events detailed in To All the Boys I Loved Before (2014), Lara Jean confesses her love for handsome golden boy Peter. This frees the pair to start a romantic relationship with a clean slate, but over the course of the novel it becomes clear that embarking on a relationship that turns an aggressive blind eye to baggage is never a good idea. When a viral video of a steamy love session between Peter and Lara Jean rears its ugly head and a boy from the past enters Lara Jean's life once more, Lara Jean's life gets complicated. Every character from Han’s adored previous novel is back, with new dimensions given to nearly every one of them. Subplots abound, among them two involving Lara Jean's father and Peter's ex-gal Genevieve, but benefitting most from this second look is John Ambrose McClaren, a boy briefly referenced in the former book who is thrust into the spotlight here as Peter's rival for Lara Jean's heart. With all these characters bouncing around, Han occasionally struggles to keep a steady hand on the novel's primary thrust: Lara Jean’s emotional development. Han gets the job done in the end, but this overeventful sequel pales to the original where structure is concerned. The author's greatest success remains her character work, and the book does indeed give everyone a solid arc, narrative be damned.

A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2673-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2015

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Bound to be popular.

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES

From the Ember in the Ashes series , Vol. 1

A suddenly trendy trope—conflict and romance between members of conquering and enslaved races—enlivened by fantasy elements loosely drawn from Arabic tradition (another trend!).

In an original, well-constructed fantasy world (barring some lazy naming), the Scholars have lived under Martial rule for 500 years, downtrodden and in many cases enslaved. Scholar Laia has spent a lifetime hiding her connection to the Resistance—her parents were its leaders—but when her grandparents are killed and her brother’s captured by Masks, the eerie, silver-faced elite soldiers of the Martial Empire, Laia must go undercover as a slave to the terrifying Commandant of Blackcliff Military Academy, where Martials are trained for battle. Meanwhile, Elias, the Commandant’s not-at-all-beloved son, wants to run away from Blackcliff, until he is named an Aspirant for the throne by the mysterious red-eyed Augurs. Predictably, action, intrigue, bloodshed and some pounding pulses follow; there’s betrayal and a potential love triangle or two as well. Sometimes-lackluster prose and a slight overreliance on certain kinds of sexual violence as a threat only slightly diminish the appeal created by familiar (but not predictable) characters and a truly engaging if not fully fleshed-out fantasy world.

Bound to be popular. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: April 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59514-803-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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