Despite what’s possibly the most agonizing cliffhanger since Catching Fire, genre fans will find it worth their time.

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THE ORPHAN QUEEN

From the Orphan Queen series , Vol. 1

A displaced teenage queen acts as a thief, spy and vigilante while plotting to reclaim her throne.

The One-Night War stole the lives of Princess Wilhelmina Korte’s parents and her kingdom, Aecor. Ten years later, in Skyvale, capital of the conquering Indigo Kingdom, Wil and her band of ragamuffin teens, the Ospreys, are attacked by glowmen—humans corrupted by wraith, the noxious supposed residue of magic, which is forbidden—and survive only with the help of vigilante Black Knife. Patrick, leader of the Ospreys, sends Wil and her friend Melanie to the Skyvale Palace as spies. There, Wil has an understandable but frustratingly difficult time controlling her anger—especially toward ailing King Terrell and aloof Prince Tobiah—even under threat of exposure. Wil reconnects with Black Knife—known for targeting thieves and magic users—and a bond slowly builds, despite Wil’s magical abilities. Some may guess Black Knife’s identity, but that doesn’t diminish the intensity of the inevitable kissing scene. What’s not so obvious is the connection between Wil’s magic and the encroaching wraith; readers will have to wait for that. The story is not perfect. It’s pushing credulity that Patrick, so young himself, trained the Ospreys so well, and problems sometimes resolve rather simply. Still, solid worldbuilding, interesting characters and just enough romance make this an enjoyable read.

Despite what’s possibly the most agonizing cliffhanger since Catching Fire, genre fans will find it worth their time. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-231738-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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