Repellent.

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BLAZED

After his burnout mom fails in her suicide attempt, 14-year-old drug addict Jaime is sent to live with his estranged father, a superrich hotshot art dealer.

The book is filled to the brim with angst, profanity and drug use in what feels more like a celebration of bourgeois ennui than a proper examination. An Internet phenom who’s released an album online and posts videos of himself reading his poetry and short stories, Jaime is impossibly talented, attractive, intelligent and sexually charged. Every woman Jaime finds himself attracted to (including adults) offers herself to Jaime in increasingly gratuitous ways. It is hard to see Jaime as anything but a monstrous, spoiled brat, unable to see past his own pain and libido and incapable of complex thought or, apparently, character growth. At over 500 pages, the novel is an exhausting read. There are long passages in which nothing of consequence to character or plot takes place, just lots of navel-gazing. The characters discuss music with no sharp insight, making the endeavor feel like a laundry list of bands that the author really wants readers to know about (he goes so far as to include a playlist at the end of the book). The characters are flat, the romance undercooked, and the only individual of true interest is an author who awkwardly defends criticisms of his books—ones that mirror those made against Myers’ own previous works.

Repellent. (Fiction. 16 & up)

Pub Date: June 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-8722-2

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing.

THE STARS WE STEAL

For the second time in her life, Leo must choose between her family and true love.

Nineteen-year-old Princess Leonie Kolburg’s royal family is bankrupt. In order to salvage the fortune they accrued before humans fled the frozen Earth 170 years ago, Leonie’s father is forcing her to participate in the Valg Season, an elaborate set of matchmaking events held to facilitate the marriages of rich and royal teens. Leo grudgingly joins in even though she has other ideas: She’s invented a water filtration system that, if patented, could provide a steady income—that is if Leo’s calculating Aunt Freja, the Captain of the ship hosting the festivities, stops blocking her at every turn. Just as Leo is about to give up hope, her long-lost love, Elliot, suddenly appears onboard three years after Leo’s family forced her to break off their engagement. Donne (Brightly Burning, 2018) returns to space, this time examining the fascinatingly twisted world of the rich and famous. Leo and her peers are nuanced, deeply felt, and diverse in terms of sexuality but not race, which may be a function of the realities of wealth and power. The plot is fast paced although somewhat uneven: Most of the action resolves in the last quarter of the book, which makes the resolutions to drawn-out conflicts feel rushed.

A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing. (Science fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-94894-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Few chills and even less logic.

BENT HEAVENS

Can Liv put the pieces of her life back together after her father’s mental breakdown?

In rural Bloughton, Iowa, Liv takes solace in the cross country team and the idea that she will be off to college before too long. Three years ago, her father, the high school’s former English and drama teacher, vanished only to return naked and talking about alien abduction. He disappeared for good eight months later. Liv and her friend Doug check the elaborate traps her father built in the woods during those eight months every Sunday. The teacher who replaced him decides to stage the same musical that was her father’s swan song, and after getting in trouble for an outburst over her insensitivity, Liv decides to destroy the traps…but discovers that one has caught an alien. After hiding the horrifying creature in her father’s shed, they discover it has her father’s compass. In anger, Liv attacks the beast and then she and Doug torture it repeatedly as revenge for her missing father…but the alien is not what they perceive him to be, and as the truth is revealed, the horror mounts. Kraus’ (Blood Sugar, 2019, etc.) newest horror fantasy (there is no science here) might inspire more anger than horror as the protagonists respond to otherness with violence. Outrage will likely be followed by laughter at the stagy, manipulative, over-the-top conclusion. Most characters seem to be white.

Few chills and even less logic. (Horror. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-15167-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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