Compelling characters and a fast-paced, unpredictable plot make this thriller a genuine joy ride.

KISS KILL VANISH

This latest novel from Martinez, whose work features and speaks to the recently emancipated teen, offers evidence that the new-adult literary niche is more than a marketing gimmick.

Valentina’s world exploded when, hidden in her boyfriend Emilio’s closet, she watched him kill a man at her father’s behest. Terrified and devastated, she’s fled Miami for Montreal and changed her name and identity. She finds Montreal’s brutal November cold as hard to take as posing for Lucien, the poseur artist and condescending jerk who’s hired her. His smarter, stoner brother, Marcel, is dangerous—he knows she’s dissembling. The fact that her family’s wealth is blood money haunts Valentina, but struggling to pay for food and her share of a decrepit apartment keeps her occupied—at least until Emilio turns up, demanding (unsuccessfully) that she return with him to Miami. While what he says turns her world upside down again, it can’t excuse her father. Desperate to escape the past stalking her, Valentina talks Emilio into fleeing together, but Lucien’s death upsets their plans. Valentina engages readers’ sympathy through each surprising plot twist, although that someone so bright and observant could remain wholly ignorant of her father’s true profession isn’t entirely plausible. Happily, such lapses in logic are few and easily ignored.

Compelling characters and a fast-paced, unpredictable plot make this thriller a genuine joy ride. (Thriller. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-227449-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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A slo-mo environmental disaster story.

THE NATURE OF WITCHES

Weather witches confront climate change in this fantasy.

Clara Densmore is her generation’s sole Everwitch and is unwilling to embrace her powers. Unlike the male and female autumn, winter, spring, and summer witches, whose powers peak during their respective seasons, Clara thrives year-round. At the Eastern School of Solar Magic in Pennsylvania, 17-year-old Clara shuns friendships and only does short-term flings, as her love can be lethal and has already killed her parents and best friend. Losing her powers seems like the selfless solution, but nonmagical shaders have pushed the planet too far with their environmental destruction. Seasonal witches are starting to die amid accelerated natural disasters—and only Clara can save the world. A budding romance with magical mentor/visiting botany student 18-year-old Sang Park from California helps Clara bloom. Redheaded, blue-eyed Clara is cued as White, and Sang is Korean American—but race, class, and other identity-related concerns are rarely a factor in this world. Debut author Griffin unfortunately fails to breathe new life into chosen one fantasy tropes—the obligatory villain, the unavoidable romance, the overly dramatic sacrifice—but excels at lush and lovely descriptions of nature and the weather and delivers a stern, if heavy-handed, message about environmental consequences of modern living.

A slo-mo environmental disaster story. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-942-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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