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An intense yet uneven apocalyptic survival story.

In New York City, a masquerade ball turns into a dystopian nightmare.

“Do you know what I would give to go to that ball?” scholarship kid Waverly asks wealthy Caroline during one of their regular tutoring sessions. Waverly—who is gay and autistic—is an outsider at Webber Academy, a private school run by its founder, Dean Owen Webber. Even with her tutoring income, the cheapest ticket to the event, the school’s annual fundraiser, is way out of reach. But, desperate for a break from the pomp and circumstance, Caroline wants Waverly to attend the masquerade disguised as her. Waverly agrees after she learns that Ash, the dean’s daughter and Waverly’s ex-girlfriend who’s now living in London, will be there. The next day at school, everyone is talking about how Caroline’s tech billionaire dad, the dean’s good friend, was found unconscious at home in suspicious circumstances. But the party must go on. The ball is in full swing when Waverly and the rest of the partygoers find themselves trapped inside the chic venue during a blackout. Turns out, the world is ending. Whom can Waverly trust? Though intrigue is threaded throughout, the book’s descent into chaos feels at odds with the fairy-tale beginning, and the bumpy pacing hampers this thought-provokingly relevant thriller. Wilde’s scrutiny of the ripped-from-the-headlines ultrarich preparing for societal collapse is powerful, however. Most of the characters are White.

An intense yet uneven apocalyptic survival story. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 9, 2023

ISBN: 9781250827975

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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