Fervent fans may be satisfied, but newcomers should be steered to better options (or wait for the inevitable movie).



From the Edge of Everything series , Vol. 2

Love-struck teens go to hell and back in this sequel.

After some cursory interactions with her clichéd friends (an angry lesbian and goofy white rapper) and remaining family (her unnamed, weary, now-single mother and oddly toddlerlike 8-year-old brother), Zoe Bissell eagerly trades her humdrum small-town Montana life for more whirlwind romance with 20-year-old brooding, soul-stealing bounty hunter X. Adorkable white teen Zoe undertakes some research then literally plunges into the underworld in pursuit of X. Meanwhile, X—the only living and innocent person in the purgatorial Lowlands—seeks his long-missing mother. X’s MacGuffin-laden quest drags readers across a repulsively and randomly violent Dante’s Inferno rip-off world with all the internal (il)logic and randomly shirtless men of an Old Spice commercial. Secondary characters present as homicidal trading card stats, stereotypes spouting cringeworthy dialogue: the fat, placid, Asian Buddhist; the Cold-War-cartoon “Russian” (who is actually Ukrainian); and the antagonist whose villainy is indicated by inappropriate use of all-caps. Even inexplicably infatuated lovers X and Zoe suffer from cliché, with X’s oddly formal speech and Zoe’s babbling and klutziness. Serious issues like mental illness, domestic violence, and abuse are raised, ham-handedly used to humanize the damned Lowlanders, and then roughly dismissed. The story crams together clichéd YA trends without appreciation for craft, substance, or sympathetic characters.

Fervent fans may be satisfied, but newcomers should be steered to better options (or wait for the inevitable movie). (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61963-755-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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