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From the Superlatives series

Still, Echols writes surely enough that romance fans will enjoy it.

A road map for the rest of her life suddenly doesn’t seem so appealing for Kaye when she realizes class clown Sawyer might not be joking with her.

Kaye and her boyfriend, Aidan, have dated since ninth grade, and they're planning to stay together once they go to Columbia to study finance. That's all Kaye has been working toward, spurred on by her ambitious, driven mother. But there’s always been something about Sawyer, the mascot who flirts with Kaye whenever she's cheering. And student-council vice president Kaye knows a secret: she and Sawyer have been voted “Perfect Couple That Never Was” for the yearbook senior superlatives. Their friends keep throwing them together, but Kaye and Sawyer never seem to get on the same page, even after Aidan breaks up with Kaye. Is it because she's black and Sawyer’s white? Could it be because she's got the Ivy League in her future and he doesn't? Kaye doesn't know—but she realizes she wants to throw her plan out the window even as her mother forbids her to date Sawyer. Will love find a way? The meandering plot and one-dimensional villain pull this third volume in the Superlatives series down; it’s hard to imagine what Kaye found to like in the poisonous Aidan. They detract from the book’s positives, such as the interracial romance and frank look at teen relationships.

Still, Echols writes surely enough that romance fans will enjoy it. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7452-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Several yards short of a touchdown.

A transgender boy starting over at a new school falls hard for a popular cheerleader with a reputation to protect in this debut.

On the first day of senior year, transgender boy Pony locks eyes with cisgender cheerleader Georgia. They both have pasts they want to leave behind. No one at Hillcrest High knows that Pony is transgender, and he intends to keep it that way. Georgia’s last boyfriend shook her trust in boys, and now she’s determined to forget him. As mutual attraction draws them together, Pony and Georgia must decide what they are willing to risk for a relationship. Pony’s best friend, Max, who is also transgender, disapproves of Pony’s choice to live stealth; this disagreement leads to serious conflict in their relationship. Meanwhile, Georgia and Pony behave as if Pony’s trans identity was a secret he was lying to her about rather than private information for him to share of his own volition. The characters only arrive at a hopeful resolution after Pony pays high physical and emotional prices. McSmith places repeated emphasis on the born-in-the-wrong-body narrative when the characters discuss trans identities. Whiteness is situated as the norm, and all main characters are white.

Several yards short of a touchdown. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294317-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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From the Final Six series , Vol. 1

The shelves are already crowded with teens-training-for-space stories; there’s no need to make room for this one.

Teens become astronauts in record time for an inaugural space mission.

After losing his family to “the greatest flood Rome has ever known,” skilled white Italian swimmer Leo Danieli would never have expected that in his darkest moment he would be drafted by the European Space Agency to attend the International Space Training Camp, where teens will train to terraform and colonize Jupiter’s moon Europa for human settlement. California native Naomi Ardalan, a second-generation Iranian-American, has also been chosen for her expertise in science and technology. During a period of violent climate change worldwide, Earth’s governments are desperate to draft teens for a space mission for which they have only a few weeks in which to prepare. Twenty-four teen finalists, many orphaned by cataclysmic natural disasters, have been chosen from all over the world to compete for this space colonization mission. Warnings come to Leo and Naomi that there is a more sinister aspect to this mission, especially after things go tragically awry with other candidates during the training. The relationship that develops between Naomi and Leo feels forced, as if their meeting necessitates speedy deployment of a romantic cliché. The use of predictable plot devices, along with the fundamentally ludicrous premise, undermines any believability that would make a reader invest in such an elaborate space journey.

The shelves are already crowded with teens-training-for-space stories; there’s no need to make room for this one. (Science fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-265894-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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