An action-filled story full of funny, topical, and sympathetic observations about the world today.

NINE DIGITS

An eccentric family competes in a reality show in Duret’s debut YA novel.

The Marcus family of Philadelphia—Skunky, Golden Boy, Barkus, Marticus, Nee Nee, and their parents, Airball and Saint Marcus—are selected to compete in a new, national reality show, where they’re woefully overmatched by the hardy, athletic Ponchatrains from New Orleans and the intellectually gifted Perfects from Boston. As the competition takes off and its producer, Buzzemiah Miller, mounts an extensive promotional campaign, readers get to know the Marcuses and their competitors in multilayered ways: through their behind-the-scenes interactions, their performances in various “challenges,” and their glossy, manufactured images, presented to and consumed by the show’s millions of viewers. The vain, attention-seeking Nee Nee, the oldest Marcus daughter, functions as the main protagonist as her family and their TV fans look for substance and redemption in the most unlikely places. A quote on the novel’s back cover compares it to Norton Juster’s 1961 classic The Phantom Tollbooth, and after a somewhat slow start, Duret’s book really does begin to approach the witty, imaginative, and accessible brilliance of that genre-busting work. It isn’t a fantasy—there’s no mystical land, unless Hollywood qualifies as such, and everything seems to follow generally accepted rules of time and space. Nevertheless, the story does have elements of the supremely absurd that are delightfully amusing and fiendishly clever. While staying focused on the action, Duret makes incisive, thought-provoking comments about what we value, as individuals and as a culture, when it comes to family, work, competition, education, and entertainment. His lively, slightly snarky prose is also a perfect fit with the material (“He didn’t seem as much to have a tan as to be entitled to one”). Overall, this book will appeal to fans of all YA genres—and their parents as well.

An action-filled story full of funny, topical, and sympathetic observations about the world today.

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1938101793

Page Count: 284

Publisher: Second Wind Publishing, LLC

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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