A brilliant treasure of a book that holds up a mirror to the best parts of our humanity.

IN THE WILD LIGHT

East Tennessee teens Cash Pruitt and Delaney Doyle met at a support group for kids whose parents struggle with addiction.

Cash has lived with Mamaw and Papaw ever since his mother died. After brilliant Delaney discovers a mold with antibacterial properties in a cave on the Pigeon River, she’s given a full ride to a Connecticut prep school—which she accepts on the condition that Cash be admitted too. While Delaney is eager to go, Cash is reluctant: deeply grounded in the natural beauty of his home, unsure he can keep up academically, and dreading leaving Papaw, whose emphysema is worsening. Traveling from their mostly White, economically distressed town to Middleford Academy, a school filled with global elites, brings measures of disorientation, inspiration, mockery—and true friendship. Cash quickly befriends Alex, a working-class Korean American scholarship student, and they form a tight foursome with Delaney and her wealthy Brazilian roommate, Vi. A poetry class with a teacher who becomes a trusted mentor becomes a lifeline—and an anchor to his roots—as Cash struggles with homesickness, attraction to Vi, and tension with Delaney. In writing suffused with raw emotion, Zentner shows respectful care for his characters; natural dialogue and a strongly developed sense of place demonstrate their evolution. The beauty of the language will invite readers to linger over sentences that speak to deep truths.

A brilliant treasure of a book that holds up a mirror to the best parts of our humanity. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5247-2024-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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This fresh reworking of a Greek myth will resonate.

NEVER LOOK BACK

An otherworldly Latinx retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth set in the South Bronx.

Pheus visits his father in the Bronx every summer. The Afro-Dominican teen is known for his mesmerizing bachata music, love of history, and smooth way with the ladies. Eury, a young Puerto Rican woman and Hurricane Maria survivor, is staying with her cousin for the summer because of a recent, unspecified traumatic event. Her family doesn’t know that she’s been plagued since childhood by the demonlike Ato. Pheus and Eury bond over music and quickly fall in love. Attacked at a dance club by Sileno, its salacious and satyrlike owner, Eury falls into a coma and is taken to el Inframundo by Ato. Pheus, despite his atheism, follows the advice of his father and a local bruja to journey to find his love in the Underworld. Rivera skillfully captures the sounds and feels of the Bronx—its unique, diverse culture and the creeping gentrification of its neighborhoods. Through an amalgamation of Greek, Roman, and Taíno mythology and religious beliefs, gaslighting, the colonization of Puerto Rico, Afro-Latinidad identity, and female empowerment are woven into the narrative. While the pacing lags in the middle, secondary characters aren’t fully developed, and the couple’s relationship borders on instalove, the rush of a summertime romance feels realistic. Rivera’s complex world is well realized, and the dialogue rings true. All protagonists are Latinx.

This fresh reworking of a Greek myth will resonate. (Fabulism. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0373-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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