A meandering exploration of abandonment and grief that switches tones too abruptly in its conclusion.

SAVE ME, KURT COBAIN

Kurt Cobain may be the answer to the central mystery of 15-year-old Nico’s life.

When Nico was 4, her mother walked out the door and never returned. Now, the mental energy she spends ruminating on her mother’s disappearance is matched only by her obsession with 1990s grunge music and the details of the life and death-by-suicide of the era’s supreme icon. After finding a hidden box of her mother’s CDs, Nico begins to wonder if there’s more to her disappearance than she’s imagined. Could Cobain be her real father? Could he still be alive? When, on a ferry ride from Seattle to Victoria, British Columbia, she spots a man with sparkling blue eyes, dirty blond hair, and a frail frame, she acts on impulse and jumps into his truck, ready to chase down the mystery of what really happened to both Cobain and her mother. The premise of Nico’s slightly unhinged quest is compelling: what if Kurt Cobain was still alive, hiding out in the woods making art? Her angst and attitude feel authentic, and she possesses an impressive depth of ’90s grunge knowledge. Readers will worry for Nico, even as they wonder if she could be onto something big. Unfortunately, in the end, the answers come too easily and too quickly to do justice to Nico’s bizarre journey.

A meandering exploration of abandonment and grief that switches tones too abruptly in its conclusion. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-52126-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Gorgeous and bloody, tender and violent, elegant, precise, and passionate; above all, completely addicting

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THREE DARK CROWNS

From the Three Dark Crowns series , Vol. 1

The opener to a pitch-black epic fantasy series horrifically upends the bonds of sisterhood.

Every generation, magically gifted triplet girls are born to rule Fennbirn, and it is the duty of each young queen to try to murder the others once they come of age. But this time only the elemental Mirabella has yet displayed any power, as the naturalist Arsinoe and poisoner Katherine are deemed weak and giftless. Although kindhearted Mirabella shows some reluctance to kill, both headstrong Arsinoe and abused Katherine are more than ready to employ any tactic to live...and win. Blake has constructed an insular, all-white, matriarchal society from convincing intimate details. As the personal lives, loves, and betrayals of the three queens are manipulated by their supporting factions, the intricate machinations of the plot never overwhelm the vivid, complicated characters of the queens and those closest to them; while it’s impossible not to sympathize with each, it is equally difficult to root for any of them. The omniscient third-person present-tense narration, switching every chapter among various players preparing for, scheming about, and even fleeing the upcoming ritual competition, employs sumptuous, poetic prose (if little of Blake’s trademark wit) with an odd detachment, creating a fablelike distance from even the grisly, shocking climax.

Gorgeous and bloody, tender and violent, elegant, precise, and passionate; above all, completely addicting . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-238543-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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