If characterization and theme are obvious, the pacing is nevertheless relentless, and readers will find themselves flipping...

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NERVE

A girl who's always stage crew, never the star, finds herself in the limelight when she's chosen as a finalist in a disturbing Internet-based reality game.

As Vee explains it, NERVE "is basically truth or dare, without the truth part," in which players are Watched by those who pay a fee to observe and a premium to record the game. Tired of always playing it safe, she performs an audition dare: Dumping cold water on herself in a coffee shop. Taped and uploaded to the NERVE site by her friend Tommy, the subsequent wet-T-shirt effect garners enough online attention that she is selected for a set of escalating dares that take her to the grand finals. With each dare, a commensurate prize inferred from her ThisIsMe profile is dangled in front of her. Between momentum and cupidity, she finds herself partnered with Ian, "a smokin'-hot guy who's eyeing me like candy," in a secret room in a Seattle nightclub along with five other players, who must simultaneously cooperate and compete in ever-more humiliating and dangerous stunts to win extravagant, personalized grand prizes. The commentary on today's life-as-public-spectacle society is both unsubtle and sound; the plot’s nearer-future similarities to The Hunger Games are equally inescapable.

If characterization and theme are obvious, the pacing is nevertheless relentless, and readers will find themselves flipping madly to the very last page . (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3832-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

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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