That said, it’s certainly heir to the Twilight tradition and will probably be a bestseller. Unfortunately.

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THE DARKEST STAR

From the Origin series , Vol. 1

The first installment of a spinoff from Armentrout’s bestselling Lux series.

It’s been four years since Earth won the global war against invading space aliens called Luxen, who combined spectacular good looks with deadly superpowers. Life is back to normal for 17-year-old Evie. Her father died in the war and her mother still works endless hours in the military, but Evie’s main concerns are the everyday dramas of high school life. When she accompanies a friend to a nightclub known to be patronized by Luxen, she meets Luc, a staggeringly hot 18-year-old who claims not to be Luxen despite having unnerving Luxen-like eyes. In days to come, girls from Evie’s school disappear, Luc shows up with frightening regularity, and gradually Evie learns that nothing, including herself, is what it seems. Aliens of many types abound—holes in worldbuilding can always be shored up with new aliens—and the overwritten prose gives the same emotional weight to girls dying from their eyes being burnt out as to preferring Coke over Pepsi. Some characters are described as gay or dark-skinned, though none of the characterization goes below surface level. Luc’s commanding, kissing-without-consent demeanor seems out of step with the #MeToo era, and unless you’re willing to put your brain on a hook and just coast through the fluffy writing, there’s not much to admire here beyond Luc’s pecs.

That said, it’s certainly heir to the Twilight tradition and will probably be a bestseller. Unfortunately. (Science fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17573-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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