A sober, introspective coming-of-age tale overshadowed by the all-too-real effects of a mass shooting. (Fiction. 16-adult)

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EVERY MOMENT AFTER

In the still-rippling effects of a years-ago tragedy, the survivors cope with the burden of moving on.

When Cole and Matt were in first grade, a shooter killed 17 of their classmates and their principal. Yet life went on for those in the New Jersey suburb, and now they approach the summer after high school graduation. Cole, in the wake of his father’s death, is determined to finally overcome his awkwardness and connect with his longtime crush—although he’ll have to make some drug deals for his romantic master plan to get off the ground. Matt struggles with the guilt of having been at home sick during the shooting due to his diabetes and makes questionable health choices while starting a romantic relationship with a woman who is also irrevocably connected to that pivotal day. The default-white cast includes a classmate who was shot and left partially paralyzed and the autistic twin brother of their deceased friend; both are secondary characters with enough screen time to show their struggles but are barely developed beyond that and feel like idealized martyrs. The town’s diner—wallpapered with failed gun control bills—attests to the horrible commonplaceness of such tragedies. This debut avoids sensationalism, instead focusing on the boys’ attempts to make sense of the changes in their world while grappling with the things that never change.

A sober, introspective coming-of-age tale overshadowed by the all-too-real effects of a mass shooting. (Fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: April 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-54727-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing.

THE STARS WE STEAL

For the second time in her life, Leo must choose between her family and true love.

Nineteen-year-old Princess Leonie Kolburg’s royal family is bankrupt. In order to salvage the fortune they accrued before humans fled the frozen Earth 170 years ago, Leonie’s father is forcing her to participate in the Valg Season, an elaborate set of matchmaking events held to facilitate the marriages of rich and royal teens. Leo grudgingly joins in even though she has other ideas: She’s invented a water filtration system that, if patented, could provide a steady income—that is if Leo’s calculating Aunt Freja, the Captain of the ship hosting the festivities, stops blocking her at every turn. Just as Leo is about to give up hope, her long-lost love, Elliot, suddenly appears onboard three years after Leo’s family forced her to break off their engagement. Donne (Brightly Burning, 2018) returns to space, this time examining the fascinatingly twisted world of the rich and famous. Leo and her peers are nuanced, deeply felt, and diverse in terms of sexuality but not race, which may be a function of the realities of wealth and power. The plot is fast paced although somewhat uneven: Most of the action resolves in the last quarter of the book, which makes the resolutions to drawn-out conflicts feel rushed.

A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing. (Science fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-94894-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Bulky, balky, talky.

THE DA VINCI CODE

In an updated quest for the Holy Grail, the narrative pace remains stuck in slo-mo.

But is the Grail, in fact, holy? Turns out that’s a matter of perspective. If you’re a member of that most secret of clandestine societies, the Priory of Sion, you think yes. But if your heart belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, the Grail is more than just unholy, it’s downright subversive and terrifying. At least, so the story goes in this latest of Brown’s exhaustively researched, underimagined treatise-thrillers (Deception Point, 2001, etc.). When Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon—in Paris to deliver a lecture—has his sleep interrupted at two a.m., it’s to discover that the police suspect he’s a murderer, the victim none other than Jacques Saumière, esteemed curator of the Louvre. The evidence against Langdon could hardly be sketchier, but the cops feel huge pressure to make an arrest. And besides, they don’t particularly like Americans. Aided by the murdered man’s granddaughter, Langdon flees the flics to trudge the Grail-path along with pretty, persuasive Sophie, who’s driven by her own need to find answers. The game now afoot amounts to a scavenger hunt for the scholarly, clues supplied by the late curator, whose intent was to enlighten Sophie and bedevil her enemies. It’s not all that easy to identify these enemies. Are they emissaries from the Vatican, bent on foiling the Grail-seekers? From Opus Dei, the wayward, deeply conservative Catholic offshoot bent on foiling everybody? Or any one of a number of freelancers bent on a multifaceted array of private agendas? For that matter, what exactly is the Priory of Sion? What does it have to do with Leonardo? With Mary Magdalene? With (gulp) Walt Disney? By the time Sophie and Langdon reach home base, everything—well, at least more than enough—has been revealed.

Bulky, balky, talky.

Pub Date: March 18, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50420-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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