Curiosity about the author’s ending promise to tweak paranormal mythology will impel some readers to the sequel, provided...

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BLOOD ON THE MOON

Knight rehashes themes of werewolf-vampire rivalry and redemptive paranormal romance in a debut that adds little to the genre until the final cliffhanger.

Against the familiar backdrop of remote wilderness and mysterious murders, Colorado State freshman Faith rebuffs the advances of bosom buddy Derek, falling instead for Lucas, an aloof and stunning specimen who morphs into fur, claws and saliva when the urge is strong or the moon is full. When Faith pairs up with Lucas on a school assignment, his one-time best friend and centuries-old vampire nemesis, Vincent, haphazardly targets her as a vehicle to hurt and distract Lucas; Lucas’ affection for Faith develops in earnest only after she becomes Vincent’s mark. Overly stiff and direct dialogue in this first-person narrative often dulls any excitement that might arise from the conflict and power play over Faith’s safety and mortality. Her ability to intuit people’s vibes is underutilized, though her telepathic influence over Lucas when he is in wolf form is crucial to the plot. Mounting ardor between Faith and Lucas heightens the stakes of the climactic battle that draws Lucas’ pack from its enclave and results in highly unusual circumstances for one of its casualties.

Curiosity about the author’s ending promise to tweak paranormal mythology will impel some readers to the sequel, provided they care to learn more about Faith’s travails. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7624-4117-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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