An uneven read that ultimately misses its mark.

READ REVIEW

MAYDAY

Even as her own soul hovers in the “middle” space, her body barely clinging to life in a hospital room, 18-year-old Crow’s thoughts are consumed with protecting her sister.

When given the chance to go on a “walkabout”—an opportunity to revisit her life and make things right—Crow learns that there may have been another side to the people and events that defined her. The only catch is that she must return as someone other than herself. It’s an interesting-enough premise, and the first half of the book will likely live up to readers’ expectations. A skillfully crafted and strikingly bleak Minnesota is the perfect backdrop for Crow’s desperate attempts to save her sister from their stepfather’s lascivious eye. Their mother’s unwillingness to acknowledge this potential threat is both maddening and chillingly believable. Unfortunately, the second half of the novel falls disappointingly short. Here, Crow’s gender-bending return to her past as a young man muddies the waters and distracts from the plot, as does a disturbing side story about Crow’s relationship with her friend Basil. Frequent references to Crow’s passion for philosophy are not followed through in the text, and Crow’s obsession with protecting her sister never allows adequate room for Crow to truly discover herself.

An uneven read that ultimately misses its mark. (Fantasy. 14-17)

Pub Date: April 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-14-241229-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 19

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating

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

Did you like this book?

Breezy, silly, unremarkable fun.

THE LIFE BELOW

From the Final Six series , Vol. 2

This sequel to The Final Six (2018) raises the stakes for its spacefaring teen astronauts.

Naomi Ardalan and the other Final Six are on their journey to colonize Jupiter’s moon Europa, leading the way for humans to eventually leave a dying Earth. Naomi is the only one in the group who knows that the leaders of the International Space Training Camp are keeping the truth from them, and it is down to her to discover whether there is alien life on Europa before they land. Back on Earth, and unbeknownst to the crew, left-behind recruit Leo Danieli works with genius doctor Greta Wagner to launch a solo mission to intercept and join Naomi’s ship in order to bring them news that not only is there definitely life on Europa, but they are set to land in its most dangerous zone. As the two missions and alternating narratives converge, the unthinkable happens—and everything changes. Fast-paced and plot-driven, the novel decidedly veers into science fiction horror territory with plenty of scares that readers willing to suspend disbelief and embrace the teenagers-in-space setup are likely to enjoy. The syrupy romance between Leo and Naomi continues, and a new layer is added to the story with a frustratingly too-brief examination of colonization and first contact. Naomi is Iranian American, Leo is Italian, and the human cast is international.

Breezy, silly, unremarkable fun. (Science fiction horror. 14-17)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-265897-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more