A bold page-turner that interrogates the notion of winning one’s heart’s desire.

FROM BRICK & DARKNESS

A dangerous supernatural being starts granting a teen’s deepest wishes in Sullivan’s debut YA fantasy.

In St. Louis, Missouri, Baxter “Bax” Allen is a sophomore at Truman High School. His parents split up 13 years ago, and he lives with his mother, Sara, who supports them with two jobs. He also suffers from episodes in which stress causes him to faint. One night, on his way back from his best friend Jason Franklin’s house, Bax meets a stranger who insists that Bax give Greg, the teen’s estranged father, a gaudy ring with a purple gem. Bax accepts it even though he doesn’t know where his dad is. The next day, as Bax and Jason examine the ring, a short, monkeylike being with white fur appears and asks to be of service. This is Janni, a low-level djinn; it obeys Bax’s wishes, but its powers have limits—for example, it can’t change people in any way. Later, Ashley Bryant, Bax’s brainy neighbor, asks Bax to have Janni spy on her parents. Eventually, Bax dreams of getting everything he wants—financial stability, his parents reunited, and the attention of his crush, Scarlet Lane. However, a more powerful entity may cause Bax to regret his desires. Sullivan presents several familiar ingredients of YA adventures, including a nerdy, underdog protagonist and threatening bullies, but it’s the djinn that truly makes this fantasy shine. Janni provides a fertile source of humor, as when it tries to help with the dishes; it’s also noted that the djinn smells like burnt hair whenever traveling via magic. There’s discussion of how a more powerful djinn could improve the world by, for example, curing cancer, which sounds a note of seriousness to the narrative. Later, well-executed twists ratchet up the horror: “He yelled but only heard the shrill grinding of metal. Then, in a split second, he heard nothing at all.” Bax’s supporting cast is well developed—especially Ashley, who begins the tale as a social outcast. Sullivan provides a tight finale, although fans will surely crave more.

A bold page-turner that interrogates the notion of winning one’s heart’s desire.

Pub Date: May 16, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5092-4008-1

Page Count: 362

Publisher: Wild Rose Press

Review Posted Online: April 19, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 36

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 20

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more