Dripping in magic, strong women, and forbidden love.

THE FORBIDDEN WISH

A Middle East–inspired fantasy version of “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp.”

Jinni Zahra, long imprisoned in her lamp, has languished for hundreds of years in a dead city as punishment for a mysterious transgression against her kind, one that also resulted in the betrayal of the warrior queen who last held the lamp, whom Zahra still mourns with the term of endearment “Habiba.” A young thief guided by a magic ring finds the city and lamp, freeing her. Other jinn quickly offer her a bargain from their ruler: he will free her from the lamp if she rescues his son, imprisoned in Aladdin’s home city—a deal with a strict time limit. Zahra uses Aladdin’s desire for vengeance against the drug-addled king’s brother—the sadistic power behind the throne—for his revolutionary parents’ deaths and the ill treatment of the peasantry. Aladdin’s audacious and bold but unable to kill, so Zahra offers an alternative revenge: he will seduce and marry the crown princess, become king, and expel his enemies—bringing them to the palace and supporting her mission. But iron-willed Caspida is no typical princess, and Zahra’s feelings for Aladdin steadily grow—despite the taboo against jinni-human love that destroyed her Habiba. Khoury allows Zahra to narrate in the first person, placing her in a distinct fantasy world that draws on Middle Eastern tropes but is no cognate of real-world geography. Though the dynamic ending fully concludes their story, readers will likely long for more stories—say, 1,000 of them.

Dripping in magic, strong women, and forbidden love. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59514-767-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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