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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This heartwarming story transcends the ordinary by exploring the hopes, dreams, and inherent risks of love in all of its...

EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING

Suffering from “bubble baby disease,” Madeline has lived for 18 years in a sterile, sealed house with her physician mother.

Madeline is a bright, witty young woman who makes the best of life with a compromised immune system by playing games with her mother, studying with online tutors, and writing brief spoiler book reviews on Tumblr. Her life is turned upside down when a troubled new family moves in next door and she sees Olly for the first time. Olly, a white boy “with a pale honey tan” and parcours moves, wants to meet her, but Madeline’s mother turns him away. With the help of an indestructible Bundt cake, Olly perseveres until he gets her email address. Madeline—half Japanese, half African-American—chronicles her efforts to get to know Olly as she considers risking everything to be with him. She confides to her wise and understanding nurse, Carla, the truth she keeps from her overprotective mother: that it’s painfully hard to be a teenager with a crush, yearning to venture outside and experience the world. Spot art by the author’s husband, occasional lists in Madeline’s handwriting, emails, and instant-messaging transcripts add a lively dimension to Madeline’s quirky character. In her debut, Jamaican-American Yoon gives readers complex characters and rich dialogue that ranges from humorous to philosophical.

This heartwarming story transcends the ordinary by exploring the hopes, dreams, and inherent risks of love in all of its forms. (Fiction. 12-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-49664-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Will both entertain and encourage reflection.

CINDERELLA IS DEAD

In Mersailles, “Cinderella” is more than just a fairy tale: It’s the basis for a harsh monarch’s throttlehold on his kingdom.

Sophia is turning 16, the age at which young women must attend King Manford’s annual ball, at which they are scrutinized by and married off to male attendees. Any young woman who has not been claimed after her third ball is destined to spend the rest of her days engaged in hard labor. But being chosen can be its own curse in a society where domestic violence is common. Sophia is a beautiful Black girl in love with dark-haired Erin, one of her best friends. While racial diversity is a natural part of this world, the same acceptance does not exist for those who defy rigid gender norms: Anything other than heterosexual desire is strictly forbidden, and while Sophia wishes to escape as a couple, Erin is too fearful. After fleeing the ball, Sophia stumbles across Cinderella’s mausoleum, hidden in the woods. There she meets rebellious Constance, an attractive young red-haired woman with a very personal motivation for sabotaging the monarchy. As the two grew closer—and sparks fly—they discover secrets that could end Manford’s cruel reign. This promising debut deals with themes around rebellion and empowerment as well as the toll that rejecting the status quo can take on relationships. The atmospheric setting is a particular strength, and the twists and turns will keep readers in suspense.

Will both entertain and encourage reflection. (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0387-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2021

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