At times heavy-handed, but the author's enthusiasm shines through. (Dystopia. 12-17)

THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE

Hirsch's debut explores the creation of a new civilization out of post-apocalyptic ruin.

Teenage salvager Stephen Quinn has heard stories about what America was like before collapsing due to a war with China and a virulent influenza. His paranoid grandfather keeps their family alive through harsh rules. After Stephen's grandfather dies, Stephen's father abandons their isolationism and is critically injured rescuing captives from slavers. Stephen lets go of his reluctance to trust strangers and accepts help from a scouting party. The scouts' town, Settler's Landing, attempts to recapture an idealized American past, complete with cookouts and baseball games. But Settler's Landing is no utopia, thanks to Caleb Henry, the token rich villain, and his stereotypical bully of a son, Will, who is convinced Stephen's a spy from nearby Fort Leonard. Will's usual target, wild Chinese girl Jenny, bonds with Stephen over their shared outcast status, while her adopted brother Jackson pulls him into youth sports, and teacher Mr. Tuttle encourages his intellectual growth. Stephen and Jenny inadvertently set off a chain of impulsive actions that jeopardize more than just Settler's Landing. Stephen's underlying internal conflict about the clash between social obligations and personal survival ties the first-person narration together and physically manifests in the climax.

At times heavy-handed, but the author's enthusiasm shines through. (Dystopia. 12-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-545-29014-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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