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

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier.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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A rare second volume that surpasses the first, with, happily, more intrigue and passion still to come.

THE WICKED KING

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 2

A heady blend of courtly double-crossing, Faerie lore, and toxic attraction swirls together in the sequel to The Cruel Prince (2018).

Five months after engineering a coup, human teen Jude is starting to feel the strain of secretly controlling King Cardan and running his Faerie kingdom. Jude’s self-loathing and anger at the traumatic events of her childhood (her Faerie “dad” killed her parents, and Faerie is not a particularly easy place even for the best-adjusted human) drive her ambition, which is tempered by her desire to make the world she loves and hates a little fairer. Much of the story revolves around plotting (the Queen of the Undersea wants the throne; Jude’s Faerie father wants power; Jude’s twin, Taryn, wants her Faerie betrothed by her side), but the underlying tension—sexual and political—between Jude and Cardan also takes some unexpected twists. Black’s writing is both contemporary and classic; her world is, at this point, intensely well-realized, so that some plot twists seem almost inevitable. Faerie is a strange place where immortal, multihued, multiformed denizens can’t lie but can twist everything; Jude—who can lie—is an outlier, and her first-person, present-tense narration reveals more than she would choose. With curly dark brown hair, Jude and Taryn are never identified by race in human terms.

A rare second volume that surpasses the first, with, happily, more intrigue and passion still to come. (map) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-31035-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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