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

MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED

From the Superlatives series

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 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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“Cinderella” but with genocide and rebel plots.

ASH PRINCESS

From the Ash Princess series , Vol. 1

The daughter of a murdered queen plots to take back what is hers.

With her country seized and her mother, the Fire Queen of Astrea, murdered by invaders when she was only 6 years old, Theodosia has been a prisoner for 10 years, stripped of her crown, her people enslaved. Theo (renamed Thora by her captors) is at the mercy of the Kaiser—the fearsome ruler of the Kalovaxians—enduring his malicious whims in order to survive. But when the Kaiser forces Theo to execute her own father, survival is no longer good enough, and she finally takes up the mantle of queen to lead her people’s rise to resistance in a land saturated in elemental magic. Debut author Sebastian has invigorated some well-worn fantasy tropes (a displaced heir, an underground rebellion, and a love triangle that muddies the distinctions between enemies and allies), delivering a narrative that crackles with political intrigue, powerful and debilitating magic, and the violent mechanisms of colonization even as it leaves sequel-primed gaps. Some details—like Theo’s crisis of identity and Hamletian indecision—work well to submerge readers in a turbulent and enthralling plot; others, like racialized descriptions that fall short of actual representation (Atreans are dark-haired and olive-skinned, Kalovaxians are blond and pale-skinned) and the use of magic-induced madness for narrative shock and awe feel lazy and distracting among more nuanced elements.

“Cinderella” but with genocide and rebel plots. (Fantasy. 14-17)

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6706-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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