I BECOME SHADOW

A secret international organization gets more than it bargained for when it kidnaps 14-year-old Rennes “Ren” Sharpe.

Snatched from her bed one night, Ren finds herself at the Future Affairs Training and Education Center. Ren soon learns that she and the other teens at the center are all recruits undergoing training to serve as protectors, or Shadows, to the future leaders. The first-person narrative follows her four-year training program at the F.A.T.E. Center, including torturous nightly injections of the drug “fire” to inure her to pain. On the first day of training, she meets Junie Miller, and the two develop a connection that eventually develops into a romance of sorts. Of course, once training ends, Ren and Junie are separated forever, as both are linked to their assignments, the future leaders they are sworn to protect. Ren’s “link” is the nerdy Gareth Young, incoming freshman engineering major at Texas A&M. After Gareth is targeted in a seemingly random attack, Ren starts breaking the Shadow rules, beginning to wonder whether something more sinister is behind the attack. In his debut, Shine delivers a thrilling plot and a headstrong heroine on par with Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior. While the novel delivers on Ren’s characterization and action, the romance between Ren and Junie feels unnecessary and is never quite believable. Read it for the satisfying action, not the love story. (Science fiction/thriller. 14-18)

 

Pub Date: June 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61695-358-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Soho Teen

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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

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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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